For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
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Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

With Looming Court Deadline, Interior Secretary Salazar Asked to Take Action to Recover American Jaguar

TUSCON, AZ - Thirty-seven conservation organizations from throughout the United States asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today to designate critical habitat and develop a recovery plan for endangered jaguars
in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has for years
refused to take either action, but in response to a lawsuit brought by
the Center for Biological Diversity, the court has ordered the
secretary to reconsider this stance by January 8.

“With
protection for its habitat and a science-based plan, the jaguar could
once again roam the American Southwest,” said Michael Robinson of the
Center for Biological Diversity.

Under the Bush
administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service maintained that the
jaguar’s extensive range in Mexico and Central and South America made
development of a recovery plan impractical, and that U.S. habitats are
marginal for jaguars. A federal judge in Tucson, however, found that
these positions were not supported by the science and ordered the
agency to reconsider.

“Secretary Salazar has an
opportunity to chart a new course for jaguar recovery in the United
States,” said Robinson. “All he has to do is listen to the science.”

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According
to a 1997 rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service listing jaguars as
endangered, jaguars once had an extensive U.S. range, including parts
of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. The great
cats were eliminated by a combination of habitat loss and human
persecution. In recent years, jaguars have crossed the border into
Arizona from Mexico.

“Interior Secretary Salazar
has the opportunity and the legal responsibility to restore jaguars to
U.S. forests, deserts, and grasslands that the big spotted cats have
roamed since time immemorial,” said Robinson. “We hope Secretary
Salazar understands the importance of protecting the jaguar’s habitat
and of developing a scientific road map for the jaguar’s recovery.”

The
last known wild jaguar in the United States, a male called Macho B, was
killed in 2009 after a bungled trapping effort by the Arizona Game and
Fish Department. Jaguars need critical habitat and the scientific
oversight of a recovery team that develops a plan. A serious threat to
jaguars currently is construction of the border wall, which has the
potential to cut off further migration of jaguars from Mexico.   
The federal government is not allowed to destroy or harm critical
habitat either directly or through issuing development permits. Not
surprisingly, species with critical habitat designated for them have
been found to be twice as likely to be making progress toward recovery
than those without, such as the jaguar.

Jaguars
are the third-largest feline in the world and the largest in North
America. Their coat is typically a striking golden-orange marked by
black rosettes or incomplete circles. Jaguars are known to prey on deer
and peccaries (also known as javelina), a boar-like animal in the
Southwest, as well as on other animals such as bighorn sheep.

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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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