FREEDOM TO ROAM (visit our map to view key linkage habitats)
Moving about is a life and death matter for jaguars. As North America’s largest cat and largest terrestrial predator (excepting bears), the jaguar is often on the go.
It’s all about securing enough prey over a big enough area, avoiding conflicts with other animals (including of course humans), having a variety of hideaways (for matters such as raising cubs), and learning, through trial and error, where the best places are at difference times of the year in each neck of the woods. Jaguars surely enjoy their travels through the landscape, just as we do.
The jaguar must also roam in order to reoccupy areas of former habitat and extend its geographic range. For jaguars to make a come back in Arizona and New Mexico after having been trapped and shot out decades ago, they must be able to move freely across the international border, and reclaim lost terrain northward.
Much of what remains of the world’s northernmost jaguar population (now extremely endangered) is located in the nearby state of Sonora, Mexico. Those jaguars are literally under the gun from ranchers and poachers, but face less development pressure on their habitat than in Arizona.
A traveling jaguar must at times leave larger blocks of habitat (places least developed, like national forest lands) and venture through what biologists call “habitat corridors” or “linkages.” These areas have some development, but not to a degree that makes it impossible for a wild animal to pass through.
The future of the jaguar, and of mountain lion, black bear, Mexican wolf, pronghorn antelope, desert bighorn, and even more common species such as mule and white-tailed deer, depends on the existence of wildlife movement corridors through or around heavily developed lands.
Fortunately, habitat linkage zones and corridors have been identified in Arizona and New Mexico (for more background see lifenet-sky-islands-region). Fortunately also is the growing recognition that these areas urgently need protection. For example, in 2007, the Western Governor’s Association passed a resolution to support habitat linkage conservation, and subsequently established its Western Wildlife Habitat Council. And in Arizona, a host of federal, state, and private organizations formed the Arizona Wildlife Linkage Work Group .
Protection for linkage areas must be “fast tracked” given the horrid speed of land development, especially in Arizona. You’ll get a real sense for this by browsing information on the following pages — especially the photos. We provide important information on each habitat linkage for jaguar, describe the threats and what needs to be done.
We challenge you to help alert the Governors of Arizona and New Mexico, county officials, members of Congress, natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, private landowners, and the general public as to the urgency of protecting these areas. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss, or have important information to add here.
Here’s a Page Index to Key Habitat Linkage Areas:
Page 1 Freedom to Roam (Introduction)
Page 2 Cross Border Linkages:
Page 3 Peloncillo Mountains-Mexico
Page 4 Chiricahua Mountains-Mexico
Page 5 San Pedro Valley-Mexico
Page 6 Patagonia/Huachuca Mountains-Mexico
Page 7 Tumacacori Highlands-Mexico
Page 8 Altar Valley/Baboquivari Mountains-Mexico
Page 9 Cross Interstate Highway Linkages:
Page 10 Pinaleno Mountains-Dos Cabezas/Chiricahua Mountains
Page 11 Little Dragoon Mountains
Page 12 Rincon Mountains-Santa Rita/Whetstone Mountains
Page 13 Tumacacori Highlands-Santa Rita Mountains
Page 14 North Peloncillo-South Peloncillo Mountains
Page 15 Other Linkages:
Page 16 Chiricahua Mountains-Dragoon Mountains
Page 17 Huachuca Mountains/Canelo Hills-Whetstone Mountains
Page 18 Santa Rita Mountains-Patagonia Mountains
NOTE: This section “Habitat Linkages” is currently being updated (May 2011) so please be patient as we continue to add and improve information.