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Judge repeals wildlife agency’s approval of copper mine due to endangered species threat

TUCSON - A federal judge overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services approval of a disputed open-pit copper mine in Southern Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains due to the fact that it is a threat to jaguars and other endangered species on Monday.

U.S. District Judge James Soto decided that the agency disregarded the Endangered Species Act by approving the destruction of thousands acres of a recently occupied jaguar habitat at the Rosemont Mine site.

The land is officially dedicated to the survival and recovery of jaguars in the U.S. and the habitat is essential to both those factors.

Marc Fink is a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"This is a wonderful win for the Santa Rita’s rare and beautiful animals, including the endangered jaguar," said Fink.

"The jaguars and endangered frogs, snakes and fish that call this place home are too important and vulnerable to be sacrificed for mining company profits,” Fink also said.

In Monday's ruling, Judge Soto determined that the "biological opinion the agency relied on to approve the mine failed to ensure protections for endangered species in the area," according to the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson.

These endangered species include jaguars, northern Mexican garter snakes, Chiricahua leopard frogs, fish and birds.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Judge Soto threw out the opinion Fish and Wildlife Services relied on and ordered the agency to start over in Monday's ruling.

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Carla Litto

Digital content producer for KVOA News 4 Tucson. Carla previously interned at the NBC affiliate. She is currently a senior at UArizona majoring in journalism.

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