For Immediate Release
Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960
838,000 Acres Protected for Jaguar
TUCSON, Ariz. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today formally proposed to protect 838,232 acres — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — as "critical habitat" for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico.
“Jaguars once roamed across the United States, from California to Louisiana, but have been virtually extinct here since the 1950s,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has worked for almost 20 years to bring back American jaguars. “Today's habitat proposal will ensure North America's largest cat returns to the wild mountains and deserts of the Southwest. Jaguars are a spectacular part of our natural heritage and belong to every American — just as surely as bald eagles, wolves and grizzly bears."
Like the gray wolf, jaguars were driven from the United States by federal and state predator-killing programs. Over the past two decades, however, the animals have begun recolonizing Arizona and New Mexico. Macho B, the last jaguar known to have crossed into the United States from Mexico, was killed in a botched state capture effort in 2009.
Jaguars were listed as an endangered species in 1997, in response to a petition by scientists and a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity. In 2007 the American Society of Mammalogists declared that establishing a U.S. population is essential to the species’ long-term survival in light of ecosystem changes wrought by global warming. It called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a federal jaguar recovery plan and protect its habitat. Today’s proposal comes in response to a 2009 court order, secured by the Center, requiring the Service to prepare a recovery plan and designate critical habitat to ensure the species' recovery.
“You can’t protect endangered species without protecting the places they live,” said Suckling. “Species with protected critical habitat recover twice as fast as those without it. This wild expanse of habitat is a huge boost to the return of jaguars to the American Southwest.”
Today's critical habitat proposal, which will be finalized within a year, spans six units in Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties, Ariz., and Hidalgo County, N.M. It includes:
● 138,975 acres in the Baboquivari Mountains, Ariz.
● 143,578 acres in the Tumacacori, Atascosa and Pajarito mountains, Ariz.
● 343,033 acres in the Santa Rita, Patagonia and Huachuca mountains and the Canelo Hills, Ariz.
● 105,498 acres in the Whetstone Mountains, including connections to the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains, Ariz.
● 99,559 acres in the Peloncillo Mountains, Ariz. and N.M.
● 7,590 acres in the San Luis Mountains, N.M.
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.
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.