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The full Arizona Senate has approved a proposal overhauling the state's badly underfunded public safety worker pension plan.

Thursday's rapid-fire action came without debate and a series of three unanimous votes on the package of bills enacting the overhaul. Voters will be asked to approve the deal in May.

Voter approval is required because current retiree cost-of-living adjustments would be lowered.

David Wallace/The Arizona Republic

A new study of global weather patterns over the past 35 years supports earlier scientific predictions the southwestern United States will become drier as atmospheric conditions that typically bring the most rain and snow to the region continue to become more rare.

The research supported by the National Science Foundation concludes that what's now considered a normal year of precipitation in the Southwest is drier than it used to be.

The scientists emphasize the new data doesn't prove climate change is responsible for increasing frequency and duration of drought.

Sonoran Desert NPS

A leech occupies the top spot in the food chain at Montezuma Well near Camp Verde. Surprisingly, its body contains the highest level of arsenic ever recorded in a living organism.


Rick Johnson Photography

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye wants referees who officiate high school sporting events in northern Arizona to take cultural sensitivity training. That’s because this week Navajo female basketball players on the Flagstaff High School team were told to change a traditional hairstyle before a game. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


Conservation CATalyst

The first publicly released video of the only known wild jaguar in the United States shows the giant cat roaming around a creek and other parts of a mountain range in southern Arizona.

El Jefe — Spanish for "the boss" — has been living in the Santa Rita Mountains, about 25 miles south of downtown Tucson, for over three years.

Conservationists tracking the jaguar released a short video Wednesday showing him walking around mountain terrain.

Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

Arizona schools chief Diane Douglas is set to testify before a Senate committee as she tries to derail legislation designed to settle ongoing fights between her and the state Board of Education.

Douglas is set to appear Thursday before the Senate's education committee. She said Wednesday that she was "shocked" at the "repulsive nature" of Republican Sen. Jeff Dial's proposal. Senate Bill 1416 would by detail specific duties for each body in an effort to end a pair of lawsuits and other problems between the board and Douglas.

Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they do not know why two Mexican gray wolves died after being tranquilized and captured by the agency’s biologists. The deaths happened during the annual population survey of the endangered animals in eastern Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


CBS News

Presidential primaries in Arizona are known as the Presidential Preference Election. A bill under consideration in the House would cut all state funding for those elections and make paying for them the responsibility of political parties. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports.


Wildlife officials are investigating the deaths of two Mexican gray wolves they say were killed after being struck by a field team's tranquilizer darts.

The team of state and federal wildlife officials was surveying the wolves in an annual population count that also involves capturing wolves with tranquilizer darts to attach radio collars to them.

In a statement Tuesday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said one wolf was darted Jan. 23 and released into the wild before dying four days later.

Earth Notes: Restoring Heiser Spring

Feb 3, 2016

Life flourishes near water in the desert. From rare plants to insects that begin their lives in water to the colorful warblers that eat them, healthy springs are hotspots of biodiversity.


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