|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2008
|CONTACT: Defenders of Wildlife
Craig Miller, (520)623-9653
Joe Vickless, (202)772-0237
Bush Administration’s Inaction Pushes Jaguar Closer to Extinction in US
Defenders of Wildlife promises suit over Bush administration refusal to create a recovery plan for jaguar
| WASHINGTON, DC – March 11 – Defenders of Wildlife has filed a notice of intent to sue in Washington D.C. district court to compel the Bush administration to create a recovery plan for jaguars in the Southwest. In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stated that it would not be drafting a recovery plan for the jaguar, claiming that despite the presence of jaguars in the United States and the existence of large swaths of prime jaguar habitat, this big cat is biologically a “foreign” species and as such does not qualify for formal recovery planning.
“The jaguar is as American a species as the bald eagle,” said Craig Miller, southwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife. “When the eagle was in danger of extinction in the United States, we didn’t give up and say, ‘There are plenty in Canada, so we don’t need them here in the States.’ It doesn’t make sense that the agency would be willing to let the jaguar fade from the Southwest just because there is a larger population across the border.”
Defenders is considering legal action in this instance not only because FWS has a responsibility to protect this particular species, but also because there are many other species in the United States with populations that exist both here and across borders in Mexico, Canada and other nations. Some of these species, including sea turtles, grizzly bears, woodland caribou and numerous bird species, are threatened or endangered and thus require a recovery plan which provides a road map to achieving healthy, sustainable populations.
“The Bush administration’s decision to forgo creating a recovery plan for the jaguar sets a dangerous precedent for all threatened and endangered species that live along our borders,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife and former director of FWS. “Animals do not recognize man-made political boundaries. They do not know whether they are in the United States, Mexico or Canada, but they do know a good home when they see one. This cross-our-fingers-and-hope approach to conserving species along the U.S. borders could result in us giving up on keeping some of the most amazing species on the planet around for all Americans to enjoy.”
According to Defenders, FWS has failed to respond to repeated calls over the last decade from scientists requesting that the wildlife agency develop a recovery plan for the American jaguar, as required by law. Most recently, in 2007, the prestigious American Society of Mammologists issued a resolution stating “jaguars continue to decline throughout significant portions of their remaining range” and “habitats for jaguars in the United States, including Arizona and New Mexico, are vital to the long-term resilience and survival of the species.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the duty to protect and recover imperiled wildlife, but when they ignore science for politics, citizens must ensure that wildlife laws are upheld. The future of America’s jaguars is at stake,” said Miller.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.