For Immediate Release: July 21, 2006
Contact: Michael J. Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, 505-313-7017
Conservationists to Government:
Pinos Altos, N.M..–The Center for Biological Diversity filed comments with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documenting that the jaguar, Panthera onca, the largest cat in North America, previously lived from Monterey Bay, California, to the Appalachian Mountains.
The comment letter, filed in response to a Federal Register notice requesting updated scientific information the jaguar’s status, is available here.
The jaguar has been listed as an endangered species since July 22, 1997, thanks to scientific and legal advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity. It is way past time, according to the group of biologists, lawyers and policy experts, to take affirmative steps to recover the jaguar throughout significant portions of its former range.
“A review of the scientific literature and historical reports reveals that jaguars were native throughout the southern tier of states and in some areas were even described as common,” said Michael Robinson of the Center, in Pinos Altos, New Mexico.
“The jaguar was eliminated from much of its western range through organized predator control on behalf of the livestock industry,” said Robinson.
“First it was an abused species, and now it’s an orphaned species,” Robinson added.
In the nine years since the jaguar was added to the endangered species list in the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service has taken no steps to recover it, as required by the Endangered Species Act. The agency has not developed a recovery plan, not designated critical habitat, and failed to effectively limit predator control where jaguars that have migrated north from Mexico may be reclaiming parts of their ancient habitat.
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s neglect of its legal responsibilities to recover the jaguar comports with the agency’s original role leading government predator control, said Robinson, who wrote a book about the Fish and Wildlife Service, its predecessor agency the Bureau of Biological Survey, and their role wiping out carnivores (Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West, University Press of Colorado, 2005).
“Carnivores like the jaguar restore the balance,” said Robinson
Jaguars typically display black rosettes (incomplete spots) on a golden pelage, but also are known to occur in a melanistic (black) phase.
In addition to their well-known range in tropical rainforests, they have been documented in deserts, grasslands, as high as 9,000 feet in coniferous forests, and in a variety of other habitats in the southern United States.
“The jaguar deserves to be welcomed home,” said Robinson.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.