Monday, April 6, 2009

A Nice Ride

For the last few months there has been ongoing debate over a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to neither designate critical habitat nor develop a recovery plan for the endangered jaguar. A recent ruling by U.S. District Judge John Roll said the agency did not use the best scientific evidence available in deciding that critical habitat for the jaguar was "not prudent" because Fish and Wildlife contended that its main threat in the United States was from being hunted, not from lack of habitat.

Jaguars once roamed from the southern tip of South America north to the region surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. Today significant numbers of jaguars are found only in remote regions of South and Central America—particularly in the Amazon basin. In fact, of the three to five jaguars believed to still spend any portion of their time within the United States, only one is considered to have the majority of its habitat in the U.S.

That cat, known as Macho B, may have been the oldest know jaguar in the world.

On March 2, the Arizona Game and Fish Department resolved the issue independent of the legal system. Macho B was captured on Feb. 18 in a snare placed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in an area outside Tuscon. The cat, which was described in field reports as healthy and robust, was tranquilized, equipped with a radio-tracking collar, and released.

Macho B was recaptured on March 2 after wildlife personnel reportedly feared that it might be in poor health. It was transported to the Phoenix Zoo, where a veterinarian said it had irreversible kidney failure and was euthanized the same day.

The federal government has opened a criminal investigation into the capture and death of Macho B amid accusations that a biologist working for the state illegally baited a trap to attract the cat.
The tragedy in this is that we will now spend more in legal fees, press coverage, and public outrage and debate far more resources than would have been allocated to the protection of critical habitat in the first place. And all the noise and outrage in the world will do nothing to help the few remaining jaguars whose range extends into the United States. Lets hope that what we learn from this is that we can’t afford to wait, or rather, the species with whom we share our home cannot afford for us to wait. Habitat protection, hunting restrictions, and recovery plans are crucial to maintaining biodiversity and our own quality of life. Do something.


  1. So sad about Macho B....
    The border fence is another problem for jaguars and other species that call the southern US and northern Mexico home. The Dept. of Homeland Security has filed suit against The Nature Conservancy who is blocking their attempts to construct a wall through a preserve-across PRIVATE property!
    Check out: and Hopefully rational thought will prevail in the end...

  2. Thanks so much to your contirbution to this Kyle, I think that the border issue regarding habitat is one that most people don't even think about. Your input, as always is appreciated and right on. Hope you noted the Wildlife Images shoutout, sio