Worms and Flowers

Jaguar: Lost to an Environmental Tug-O-War

Posted in Current Events/History by Lzyjo on December 24, 2008

The Jaguar has languished in the quicksand of environmental bureaucracy for over 20 years. Despite federal predator control programs to wipe-out the Jaguar, the species has survived. North America’s largest big cat once inhabited a large part of North America, from Louisiana to California and across the Great Plains. When the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973, foreign Jaguar populations were immediately listed, but according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Populations were not listed due to “administrative oversight.”
After more than ten years of petitions and lawsuits, through the 1980s and 90s, the Jaguar was finally listed as an endangered species in July 1997. Despite the listing, no critical habitat was designated and a recovery plan implemented. In 2003, Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, two environmental groups, filed a lawsuit petitioning the Fish and Wildlife Service to review their decision not to designate critical habitat or create a recovery plan for the Jaguar. When they did review the ruling, they again decided the designation of critical habitat was “not prudent.” H. Dale Hall, the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, continues to insist that the jaguar would not benefit from a recovery plan. Using Recovery Planning guidelines prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Hall applied three circumstances for species that would not benefit from a recovery plan, including species native to foreign countries; when it is likely the population will go extinct; and unforeseen circumstances (maybe a border fence?!) After the millennium, over forty trail cameras were set up in Arizona. They captured photographic evidence of at least three individual jaguars. Tracks were found during every month of the year. Just when it was looking up for the Jaguars, Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Co-author of the PATRIOT Act, passed the REAL ID Act, violating 35 laws to ram the border fence project through. The five miles of border fence that were constructed in 2007 were placed directly in the Jaguar study area, further fragmenting the population and reducing their chances of recovery. Today in Mexico predator-control programs still target the the Jaguar. 40 years after officials thought they had killed the last documented Jaguar, the species is still surviving despite our best efforts to stamp them out.

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