WASHINGTON, DC - March 11 - Defenders of Wildlife has filed a notice of
intent to sue in Washington D.C. district court to compel the Bush administration
to create a recovery plan for jaguars in the Southwest. In February, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stated that it would not be drafting a recovery
plan for the jaguar, claiming that despite the presence of jaguars in the United
States and the existence of large swaths of prime jaguar habitat, this big cat
is biologically a “foreign” species and as such does not qualify for formal
“The jaguar is as
American a species as the bald eagle,” said Craig Miller, southwest
representative of Defenders of Wildlife. “When the eagle was in danger of
extinction in the United
States, we didn’t give up and say, ‘There are plenty in
Canada, so we don’t need them here in the States.’ It
doesn’t make sense that the agency would be willing to let the jaguar fade from
the Southwest just because there is a larger population across the
Defenders is considering
legal action in this instance not only because FWS has a responsibility to
protect this particular species, but also because there are many other species
in the United States with populations that exist both here and across borders in
Mexico, Canada and other nations. Some of these species, including sea turtles,
grizzly bears, woodland caribou and numerous bird species, are threatened or
endangered and thus require a recovery plan which provides a road map to
achieving healthy, sustainable populations.
administration’s decision to forgo creating a recovery plan for the jaguar sets
a dangerous precedent for all threatened and endangered species that live along
our borders,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders
of Wildlife and former director of FWS. “Animals do not recognize man-made
political boundaries. They do not know whether they are in the
States, Mexico or Canada, but they do know a good home when they see one.
This cross-our-fingers-and-hope approach to conserving species along the
U.S. borders could result in us giving up on keeping
some of the most amazing species on the planet around for all Americans to
According to Defenders,
FWS has failed to respond to repeated calls over the last decade from scientists
requesting that the wildlife agency develop a recovery plan for the American
jaguar, as required by law. Most recently, in 2007, the prestigious American
Society of Mammologists issued a resolution stating “jaguars continue to
decline throughout significant portions of their remaining range” and
“habitats for jaguars
in the United
Mexico, are vital to the
long-term resilience and survival of the species.”
“The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service has the duty to protect and recover imperiled wildlife, but
when they ignore science for politics, citizens must ensure that wildlife laws
are upheld. The future of
America’s jaguars is at stake,” said Miller.
Learn more about what Defenders is doing to save the jaguar.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.