All the talk and fanfare surrounding the recent US Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to designate “critical habitat” for the jaguar in the United States won’t amount to a hill of bureaucratic beans unless concrete actions are taken soon to protect the most threatened habitat, namely that which allows jaguars to move between mountain ranges and around existing developed areas.
Shockingly, such protection is omitted from the agency’s current proposal. Wildlife corridors are an absolute must for any jaguar population, and agency officials know it.
Habitat corridors are at extreme risk from land development and related impacts. Many have already disappeared and most that remain are critically imperiled.
Despite this campaign’s best efforts, the US Fish & Wildlife Service continues to ignore the habitat corridor issue.
As Dr. Tony Povilitis told the Times reporter, the US Fish & Wildlife Service proposal does not give jaguars enough space to roam and ignores important jaguar corridors. With continuing development in the Southwest, the animal’s “habitat is becoming fragmented. There’s still time to change that, but there’s not a lot of time.”
We have begged and pleaded with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials in Arizona and New Mexico to get working on protecting habitat corridors for endangered jaguar, wolf, and ocelot, as well as other wildlife.
It’s time for the agency to “get real” about jaguar recovery needs, cut through its own red tape, rearrange some priorities, and work in earnest with landowners, counties, conservation organizations, and other federal agencies in a concerted effort to tackle the utmost conservation problem facing the Southwest – fragmentation of wildlife habitat.