Fantastic news for jaguars and for Care2 activists!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last Friday 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.
Over 14,500 Care2 members have signed our petition asking Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and his Department to implement their pledge to protect jaguars and their habitat. The petition, sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, called on the Interior Department to grant the jaguar protected habitat in the U.S., and develop a recovery plan to save these incredible cats.
And you have made a difference!
Although jaguars are often thought of as tropical creatures, these amazing cats used to roam the Southwestern United States. Like the gray wolf, jaguars were driven from the United States by federal and state predator-killing programs.
But just recently, two jaguar sightings were confirmed in southern Arizona!
As Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, explains:
“Jaguars once roamed across the United States, from California to Louisiana, but have been virtually extinct here since the 1950s.”
“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.”
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.
The critical habitat proposal, which will be finalized within a year, spans six units in Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties, Arizona, and Hidalgo County, New Mexico.
Great news, and thank you to everyone who has signed our petition!
Photo Credit: thinkstock