The federal government yesterday decided to protect 731,000 acres near Tucson, Ariz., as critical habitat for the endangered pygmy owl, a major shift that will limit future development in the area. The feds were forced into the move by a lawsuit filed by the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. Last week, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull (R) led local landowners and government officials to Washington, D.C., to protest greater protections for the tiny owl. Yesterday, she claimed that the critters, which average seven inches in length, “actually belong in northern Mexico. If you want to see them, you can go to Mexico and see plenty of them.”