Reported by: Katie Raml
Last Update: 1/06 5:17 pm
PHOENIX -- There is a battle brewing in Arizona.
Thirty-seven conservation organizations, many from here in Arizona, have asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to designate critical habitat and develop a recovery plan for endangered jaguars in the United States.
They say, for years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to take either action.
Now, in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the court has ordered the secretary to reconsider its stance.
“With protection for its habitat and a science-based plan, the jaguar could once again roam the American Southwest,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Secretary Salazar has an opportunity to chart a new course for jaguar recovery in the United States,” said Robinson. “All he has to do is listen to the science.”
According to a 1997 rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service listing jaguars as endangered, jaguars once had an extensive U.S. range, including parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.
Many argue the cats were eliminated by a combination of habitat loss and human persecution.
This newest action gathered strength and headlines after what happened in our state earlier this year.
The last known wild jaguar in the United States, a male called Macho B, was found in the oak woodlands of Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
The jaguar, believed to be suffering from chronic kidney failure, was euthanized by authorities.
Read more about that story
An investigation is pending and despite our best attempts, few will talk candidly about what really happened.
What’s more, many say, the construction of the border wall is a another serious threat.
They say it has the potential to cut off further migration of jaguars from Mexico.
We expect to hear from the secretary by January 8.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org