Compelled by Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits and grassroots activists, the jaguar was first put on the endangered species list in 1997. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed protecting a few mountain ranges along the Mexican border as "critical habitat."
The proposed areas are vital, but not nearly enough to ensure the big cat's recovery.
The agency has omitted the best jaguar habitat north of the border and travel corridors that would allow jaguars to move freely.
A foreign-owned mining corporation is lobbying hard to block protections. It wants to build a new open-pit mine - Rosemont Copper - in the Santa Rita Mountains that would strip thousands of acres of all life and leave a mile-wide hole in Coronado National Forest. A jaguar was seen there last year.
Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect all of the habitat the jaguars need to recover in the Southwest and give them a real welcome home.
SUBJECT: Protect All the Critical Habitat Necessary for the Jaguar's Recovery
Dear [Decision Maker],
I support the designation of protected "critical habitat" for endangered jaguars, including all the areas proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Santa Rita Mountains, where a jaguar was seen last year and also where the Service's predecessor agency first killed a jaguar in the United States in 1918, must not be excluded to facilitate a destructive open-pit mine.
It is not right to exclude the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona from protection, either, as a jaguar lived there as recently as 1986 -- before it was hunted down. It still provides habitat that jaguars could use. Also, we shouldn't exclude the Animas Mountains in New Mexico, near where a jaguar was photographed in 2006 while being chased southward by hunting hounds, away from this remote desert range.
Critical habitat must also be designated north of the borderlands with Mexico, north of Interstate 10, and include the Galiuro and Pinaleno mountains of Arizona.
Most importantly, the Gila National Forest and adjoining wildlands in New Mexico and the contiguous Mogollon Rim in Arizona must also be designated. They offer millions of acres of excellent habitat and diverse wildlife that jaguars could prey on, including elk.
Please also designate the lowlands between mountain ranges, including the San Pedro River corridor, to ensure jaguars can move between the uplands.