Judge Strikes Down Refusal to Recover Jaguars, Protect US Habitat

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Judge Strikes Down Refusal to Recover Jaguars, Protect US Habitat

TUSCON, Ariz - Ruling on a lawsuit brought by
the Center for Biological Diversity, a federal judge today struck down the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service's refusal to develop a recovery plan for the endangered jaguar and to protect critical habitat
areas in the United States.

The
Bush administration had refused both, declaring that the historic range of
the jaguar, which stretched from San Francisco
Bay to the Appalachians, was
"insignificant" and therefore no recovery efforts were needed
in the United States.
This was the first time in the 35-year history of the Endangered Species
Act that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared it would not recover a
domestic species.

"Judge
Roll has thrown a lifeline to one of North America's
most endangered animals," said Michael
Robinson, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.
"The court today roundly rejected the Bush administration's
refusal to protect and restore jaguars to the United States. We can now
finally put the Bush era behind us and start the long, hard work of
restoring the U.S.
jaguar population."

Critical
habitat provides key protections for endangered species by identifying and
protecting those areas that are essential to their recovery and survival.
Species with critical habitat recover twice as fast as species without it.

Recovery
plans provide a road map for bringing species back from the brink of
extinction. Species with recovery plans also recover much faster than
species without them.

"Recovery
planning and habitat protection are the heart of the Endangered Species
Act," said Robinson. "Without them, endangered species will
never recover."

The
last known female jaguar in the United States
was shot by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1963, in Arizona. The last
known jaguar in the country, a male animal at least 15 years old known as
Macho B, was euthanized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the
Arizona Department of Game and Fish on March 2, 2009, following a stressful
capture and radio-collaring incident. The decision has come under fire by
scientists and conservationists who argued that jaguars should not be
captured outside the context of an approved federal recovery plan and that
evidence was lacking to prove the jaguar would not have survived with
sufficient medical treatment.

Background

Jaguars
are the largest feline native to North America.
They previously ranged throughout the southern United
States from the San
Francisco Bay
area to the Appalachian Mountains. The
species was listed as endangered outside the United
States in 1969 and inside the United States
on July 22, 1997, as a result of a previous lawsuit by the Center for
Biological Diversity.

The
ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge John M. Roll of Tucson, Arizona.
It requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue new recovery plan and
critical habitat decisions by January 2010.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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