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Feds Protect Habitat for Jaguars in the United States

Date
March 5, 2014
Contact
Taylor Jones (505) 490-5141
In This Release
Wildlife

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Feds Protect Habitat for Jaguars in the United States

Areas are Key to Reestablishing Rare Cats in the U.S.
Contact: Taylor Jones (505) 490-5141

Washington, DC –Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at last protected habitat deemed essentialfor the survival and recovery of the jaguar in the United States. Thelong-awaited rule designates 764,207 acres in Arizona and New Mexico as “criticalhabitat” for the imperiled cat. The jaguar was listed as “endangered” under theEndangered Species Act (ESA) throughout its range in 1972, and listedexplicitly in the United States in 1997.

Historically,jaguars may have occurred as far north as Grand Canyon, Arizona. However, nodocumented females or breeding pairs have occurred in the United States forover fifty years. In the past severalyears, male jaguars have appeared in the U.S., including one currently residingin the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. The large, beautiful cats are sometimesseen within forty miles of the Mexican border, but are rare visitors to the U.S.

“The habitatprotections finalized today will help ensure that jaguars may once again safelyroam the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico,” said Taylor Jones, EndangeredSpecies Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “We call on the Service to quicklytake the next steps to ensure a self-sustaining jaguar population isreestablished in the U.S.”

Critical habitatdesignations protect a geographic area that contains features essential to theconservation of a threatened or endangered species. Those features include foodand water resources, breeding habitat, travel corridors, or other resourcesessential to the life history of an animal or plant. For jaguars, thesefeatures include populations of prey animals, water sources, and ruggedmountain ranges. Federal agencies must consult with the Service beforeundertaking any projects that might adversely affect or destroy criticalhabitat. Protected habitat in the U.S. will allow jaguars to naturally disperseinto their former range from the nearest core population in Mexico. It will also provide a buffer against theimpacts of climate change, which may cause jaguar populations to shiftnorthward.

The Serviceproposed critical habitat for the jaguar as a result of a historicmulti-species settlement agreement with Guardians reached in May 2011, whichrequires the Service to make listing and critical habitat determinations on 251candidate species by the end of 2016. The Service first proposed criticalhabitat for the jaguar in August 2012, and later revised the proposed habitatto exclude some areas and include others. The Service plans to release a draftrecovery plan for the jaguar in spring 2014.

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Historically, jaguars may have occurred as far north as Grand Canyon, Arizona. However, no documented females or breeding pairs have occurred in the United States for over fifty years. In the past several years, male jaguars have appeared in the U.S., including one currently residing in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. The large, beautiful cats are sometimes seen within forty miles of the Mexican border, but are rare visitors to the U.S.
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