Glimpses of a jaguar roaming the Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona give new hope for this majestic big cat's return to the United States. But these rare sightings also show how much more is needed to recover jaguar populations here.
In response to a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing a proposal that adds 31 square miles to the 1,310 square miles of protected habitat already proposed for jaguars last year.
But the new proposal uses a rather irrational rationale to omit the vast Gila National Forest and Mogollon Rim from protection: No areas above 6,561 feet in elevation will be designated as critical habitat. This reasoning exists despite the two jaguars -- including the last female jaguar seen in the U.S., shot here in 1963 -- who were killed in this region near 9,000 feet.
Before colonizing Central and South America, jaguars evolved in what we know today as the United States. They are native not just to our southern border but even as far afield as California and Louisiana. The areas with the best habitat connected to jaguars in Mexico, despite being 100 miles from the border, must be protected for jaguar recovery.
Please urge the Service to protect all of the ecosystems jaguars need to recover.
August 6, 2013 Action Alert ID# 111
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