The federal government has just made a substantial investment to the tune of $771,000 for a 3-year project to study jaguar presence in Arizona and New Mexico. Yet the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the lead agency, claims there is no money to protect vanishing habitat connectivity for the region’s jaguar, Mexican wolf, and other endangered wildlife. Astoundingly, a top official says that “frankly this isn’t real close to the top” in terms of agency priorities.
Not a high priority! How can this be? Every conservationist knows that the jaguar and other wildlife face a huge habitat fragmentation crisis. Without protection for habitat corridors and linkages there can be no restoration of jaguar, Mexican wolf, and ocelot populations in the Southwest.
Some organizations and individuals are struggling to address this habitat crisis. For example, a new “wildlife linkages group” is underway in Cochise County, AZ, where are jaguar was recently sighted. But such groups are simply overwhelmed and under-resourced. And time is running out, as critical habitat continues to fall victim to our ongoing loss of open space lands.
Here’s how visitors to this website can help:
1) Sign our latest petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service calling for habitat protection for wild carnivores of the US Southwest; and/or,
2) Write a personal letter to the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service using our letter as a model.
Our letter, dated December 8, 2011, is as follows:
Daniel M. Ashe, Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240
RE: Support for Connectivity Conservation in the US Southwest – Reply Requested
Dear Director Ashe:
Please provide staff and resources in Arizona and New Mexico for on-the-ground protection of habitat corridors and linkages for the endangered jaguar, Mexican wolf, and ocelot.
Habitat fragmentation is a huge problem in these states. To be sure, recovery goals for these species cannot be met unless habitat connectivity is protected.
US Fish and Wildlife Service officials in the region say that they do not have staff and resources to address this problem. And a top Service official recently remarked that “frankly this [connectivity conservation] isn’t real close to the top” in terms of agency priorities. These circumstances must change.
Your agency has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars toward research and recovery planning for endangered carnivores of the Southwest. This investment will go for naught if fragmentation of habitat needed for the recovery of these species continues.
Other federal agencies, local and state governments, and the private sector cannot protect regional habitat connectivity without the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a leading partner.
Kindly reply to this letter, indicating what resources your agency will apply toward ending habitat fragmentation and conserving habitat connectivity for jaguar, Mexican wolf, and ocelot in Arizona and New Mexico.
Tony Povilitis, Ph.D.