Lawsuit Launched to Protect Jaguars and Ocelots From Government Traps, Snares, and Poisons

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Jaguars and Ocelots From Government Traps, Snares, and Poisons

SILVER CITY, New Mexico - Today the Center for Biological Diversity formally notified
the predator-control branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Wildlife Services, that it will file suit over Wildlife Services’
traps, snares, and poisons, which risk injuring or killing endangered jaguars and ocelots in the Southwest.

To
protect jaguars and ocelots, the Center is seeking a halt to
animal-killing activities that Wildlife Services conducts on behalf of
the livestock industry throughout much of southern and central Arizona
and New Mexico.

“Jaguars have pitifully poor
protection, both in areas where they’ve recently lived and in their
historical range,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “And in
Arizona, ocelots have no protection whatsoever from government predator
control. Both these beautiful wildcat species became highly imperiled
in the first place partly because of government persecution, and
risking the lives of the last remnants of these species in the course
of killing cougars, bears, coyotes, or bobcats perpetuates a cruel and
illegal policy.”

Wildlife Services is required by
the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, within the Department of the Interior, on any of its
activities that may affect endangered species. Its 1999 consultation on
predator-control effects on jaguars resulted in a formal biological
opinion document that authorized the inadvertent killing of one jaguar,
so long as Wildlife Services attempted to avoid said killing and
adhered to mandatory terms and conditions intended to minimize the risk.

The
terms and conditions include not using poisons and minimizing use of
traps and snares within “occupied habitat,” as delineated on maps. But
official occupied habitat is a small part of the landscape jaguars may roam.

Background on today’s notice of intent to sue

Today’s notice of intent to sue points out that the 1999 biological
opinion, which delineates occupied habitat in only a few mountain
ranges constituting a small proportion of the Sky Islands region, is
woefully out of date. Nine studies and reports in the intervening
decade suggest, and in several instances explicitly map out, a much
broader region where jaguars may live. But any jaguars in these areas
receive only lip service, and no effective safeguards against federal
predator killing.

Wildlife
Services is not even curtailed in its lethal work in the areas south of
Tucson where Macho B and at least one other jaguar lived for many
years, which other jaguars may be expected to colonize.

Ocelots have not received the benefit of any
consultation between Wildlife Services and Fish and Wildlife regarding
the former’s traps, snares, and poisons in Arizona. For that reason,
ocelots are unprotected on the ground though the law requires their
protection.

In November 2009, an ocelot was
photographed in Cochise County, Arizona.  And this month an ocelot was
run over by a vehicle near Globe, Arizona – the first two of these
secretive animals to be confirmed in Arizona since 1964.

Background on jaguars and ocelots

Jaguars are the largest feline native to the New World and the
third-largest cat (after the tiger and lion) globally; usually golden
with dark semicircle rosettes, they evolved in North America before
colonizing Central and South America. Ocelots are also a spotted cat,
but closer in size to a bobcat, and like jaguars, were also targeted by
fur hunters and despised as predators.

The
Center for Biological Diversity’s advocacy and litigation was
responsible for the jaguar’s protection as an endangered species in the
United States in 1997, and for compelling the Fish and Wildlife Service
this year to reverse course and decide to prepare a recovery plan for
jaguars and to protect their habitats – neither of which has yet been
completed.

 

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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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