In a press release last week, The Center for Biological Diversity [national, nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places] announced that “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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” (CBD, 2012).
Jaguars (Panthera onca) have been extinct in the United States since the 1950s. Federal predator killing programs caused the extirpation of these big cats in the United States. The historical range of the jaguar extended from California to Louisiana.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the jaguar on the endangered species list in 1997. However, according to the American Mammal Society, “despite the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and an urgent conservation imperative, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not developed a jaguar recovery plan or designated jaguar critical habitat” (AMS, 2012). Jaguar numbers continue to decline in their remaining ranges south of the United states for several reasons (i.e. habitat fragmentation, climate change, human conflict).
After a few lawsuits and the 2009 court order to initiate a protection plan, the federal government has finally stepped up protection for the jaguar.
You can read the Jaguar/ land proposal here .
Here is a link to more journal articles referencing the decline in the Panthera onca.
American Mammal Society
Center for Biological Diversity
Image credit: Wikipedia/Belize zoo
United States Department of Agriculture