Federal officials pledge to eradicate feral cows throughout Arizona’s San Pedro Riverine National Conservation Area

TUCSON, Arizona– The Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society have entered into a legal agreement with the US Bureau of Land Management guaranteeing that the agency will remove all trespassing cows from the entire San Pedro Riverfront National Conservation Area. The BLM has also agreed to inspect, repair and maintain the conservation area boundary fences to keep cows out.

The agreement follows the Center and Maricopa Audubon’s October 6, 2021 lawsuit against the BLM for ignoring necessary repairs to the fence and the trespassing of cows that endanger the Huachuca water pennywort and its habitat. of the San Pedro wetlands.

The legal settlement is also in response to the nearly 50 complaints Center and Maricopa Audubon members have filed over the past two years against the BLM’s failure to remove the intruding cows, which have already destroyed the largest population. of water pennywort Huachuca, an endangered plant.

“Finally, we have a binding agreement with the BLM to eliminate trespassing cows that wipe out riparian vegetation in San Pedro,” said Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The agreement requires the agency to repair and maintain conservation area fencing to keep cows out and stand up to local ranchers who bullied BLM workers into not doing their jobs. Cows have no place along the San Pedro River, let alone anywhere else along the desert waterways.

“What a great victory for the San Pedro!” said Maricopa Audubon President Emily Thomas. “Scientific studies have shown that desert waterways recover and thrive when cows are removed. It is time for this national and international treasure to finally get the protection promised by these destructive intruding cows.

The Huachuca water pennywort is a perennial herbaceous plant with fine, erect leaves. The plants once thrived in extensive riparian habitats in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico, but the species has been reduced to several disconnected clumps in a handful of southwestern wetlands. In 1996, the Center applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the plant under the Endangered Species Act and it was listed the following year.

The San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area was the first in the nation, created by Congress in 1988. It includes more than 46 miles of the San Pedro and Babocomari Rivers, and nearly 55,000 acres of riparian and upland areas, including four of the rarest habitat types in the southwest―poplar/willow forests, marshes, grasslands, and mesquite thickets.

Over 400 birds, 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 80 species of mammals are found within the conservation area, making it a world-renowned biodiversity hotspot.

Other endangered species in the area include southwestern willow flycatchers, ocelots, jaguars, desert pupfish, Gila topminnows, western yellow-billed cuckoos, and eastern garter snakes. northern Mexico and the eryngo of Arizona.

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