Conservationists Sue to Protect Endangered Jaguars From Arizona Game and Fish Department

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Conservationists Sue to Protect Endangered Jaguars From Arizona Game and Fish Department

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Arizona Game and Fish
Department today in federal court in Tucson to prevent the agency from
killing any more endangered jaguars.

The lawsuit
asserts that, contrary to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's
position, the state agency does not have a permit allowing it to set
snares and take other actions that might reasonably be expected to
injure or kill jaguars.

Despite the controversy
and successive revelations about the Department's capture and killing
of the jaguar "Macho B" in February and March of this year, the agency
claims it still has authority to capture jaguars. Today's suit seeks to
ban the state agency from capturing any additional jaguars until and
unless it obtains all needed authorizing permits.

"Our
suit is necessary to protect any jaguars currently in Arizona and those
that we hope will live in the state in the future," said Michael
Robinson of the Center. "Arizona Game and Fish Department's ongoing and
planned actions put such animals at risk."

The
federal Endangered Species Act allows "take" of animals on the
endangered species list, such as the jaguar, only in accordance with
provisions of permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Take" is defined in the act as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot,
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any
such conduct. Permits may be for either purposeful or accidental take.
However, the Department does not hold either kind of permit granting it
such authority.

"Snaring and other risky actions
undertaken by the Arizona Game and Fish Department broke the law by
putting jaguars at risk even if they had never captured and
unnecessarily killed Macho B," Robinson added. "The department is still
putting jaguars at risk."

Today's lawsuit is
independent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's ongoing
investigation into any violations that may have led to the death of
Macho B.

"We hope that the Fish and Wildlife Service
will seek accountability and justice for the loss of the last known
jaguar in United States," said Robinson. "Our suit is about preventing
future harm to jaguars in the United States."

Permits
issued by Fish and Wildlife Service typically contain provisions
minimizing the risk to an endangered species, and should also be
grounded in a recovery plan that delineates information needs and
weighs research methods against the species' actual recovery needs.

A
permit for capture of a jaguar might, for example, require use of
specially configured box traps, instead of snares which can cut off
circulation to a limb. A jaguar recovery team, which Fish and Wildlife
Service has yet to appoint, could provide technical expertise to guide
provisions in a take permit.

The longstanding
lackadaisical approach to jaguar management has already been found in
violation of the law. On March 30, 2009, a federal judge ruled in
another Center lawsuit that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had
violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to prepare a recovery
plan and designate critical habitat for the jaguar - positions long
advocated by the state agency as well.

"Snaring
jaguars without an overarching recovery plan delineating information
needs, as well as showing how research methods fit into jaguar
recovery, is the wrong way to go about it," said Robinson. "The
‘let's-get-our-hands-on-the-animal' approach to management is a legacy
of the era when jaguars were proudly enumerated as body counts. Our
government agencies should display far more respect for this majestic
cat and its rightful place in our deserts and mountains."

The
jaguar is the largest wild feline in the western hemisphere, and the
third-largest cat in the world, after the tiger and the lion. Jaguars
are native to South, Central, and North America, and in the United
States they once ranged from northern California to North Carolina, as
well as further south. Today in the United States, they are only known
in the Sky Islands region of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New
Mexico near the border with Mexico.

 

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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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