Critical Habitat

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Since 2012, the Obama administration has relaxed requirements of the Endangered Species Act to make designation of “Critical Habitat” easier for the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). This is achieved by changing some definitions and by relaxing scientific standards. This will result in more areas being designated as “Critical Habitat” and impose more restrictions on private property, grazing, and mineral exploration and development.

Details of these changes are discussed in a memorandum by attorney Karen Budd-Falen. Here are the main points of that memo:

Previously “Critical Habitat” was confined to the area where a species was in trouble. Under the new policy, the entire range of the species will now be included, even areas where the species is not in trouble.

“Critical Habitat” will be expanded to include areas where the species does not now exist, but might inhabit that area at some unspecified time in the future. (An example of this is the proposed designation of “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar in large areas of Arizona and New Mexico even though jaguars do not occupy the area.)

Species listing and designation of critical habitat are supposed to be based on the “best scientific and commercial data available.” Now, principles of conservation biology are also included. Budd-Falen notes that many scientists describe conservation biology as “agenda driven” and “goal-oriented” biology.

FWS will no longer publish text or detailed land descriptions of the proposed “Critical Habitat.” They will publish small maps in the Federal Register. This will make it difficult for landowners to determine if their property is included.

FWS is no longer required to consider whether areas should be excluded from “Critical Habitat” based on economic costs and burdens.

Budd-Falen notes that these changes may cause normal operations of a farm or ranch to result in a “take” of an endangered species under the law. Also, as the farmers in California’s Central Valley found out, they were not able to divert water for crop irrigation because it was “needed” for downstream fish in a designated “Critical Habitat.”

Read entire memo

Related:

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

Arizona Game and Fish Department against critical habitat for jaguar

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), asks that FWS withdraw its proposal for establishing critical habitat for the jaguar in Arizona and New Mexico “because conservation of the species is entirely reliant on activities in the jaguar’s primary habitat of Central and South America to be successful. Lands in Arizona and New Mexico make up less than one percent of the species’ historic range and are not essential to the conservation of the species.”

Arizona Game and Fish also said in a press release:

“The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal considers jaguar occurrence from 1962 to 2011. All of the available information from that time frame and even decades before consistently indicates that Arizona does not provide habitat that is critical to jaguar conservation.”

“The sanctity of the ESA is put at risk when litigious groups misuse legal terms to gain more control of wildlife conservation and public lands. Their maneuvers undermine the true intent of the act and jeopardize the public’s support for wildlife conservation.”

“Game and Fish believes that the unwarranted designation of critical habitat for jaguars would likely result in denial of access to lands for jaguar conservation and research efforts; fewer observations of jaguars being reported; less timely sighting reports from people that do choose to report a jaguar; and, an increased likelihood of illegal activities which undermine endangered species conservation.”

This was the right decision. We have yet to see if FWS will base their ruling on science or politics.

See also:

Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science

Proposed Jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico is scientifically and legally indefensible

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine

Proposed Jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico is scientifically and legally indefensible

JaguarA new report from the Pima Natural Resource Conservation District (PNRCD) shows that the proposal by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate Critical Habitat for the jaguar under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is scientifically indefensible because it is based on flawed data, and it violates laws such as the Data Quality Act.

PNRCD requests that FWS withdraw its proposed rule “because habitat ‘essential’ to the conservation of the jaguar as a species does not exist in either Arizona or New Mexico under any scientifically credible definition of that term, because designation of critical habitat therein cannot possibly help save jaguars, and because the economic consequences of adding yet another layer of regulation and restriction on national security, resource production, water use, hunting and recreation during the worst recession on record since 1929 far outweigh any possibly discernible benefit to jaguars as a species that might be gained by designating critical habitat for them north of the Mexican border where they are but rarely transient…”

See report and supporting material at: http://www.sacpaaz.org/comments-on-proposed-jaguar-critical-habitat/

Some highlights:

For Critical Habitat to be established under ESA, the FWS must show that the area in question is essential to the jaguars conservation and survival as a species, not merely whether the area in question could host or has hosted individual, transient jaguars.  “Contrary to the claim of the Service in this proposed rule, recent, documented sightings of four or five individual jaguars on singular occasions, two of which occurred over a decade and a half ago, are not scientific evidence of current jaguar residency in or occupancy of the United States for purpose of critical habitat designation. Nor are these sightings scientific evidence that such brief, male-only transience represents use of habitat by jaguars essential to their collective existence or conservation as a species because the jaguar’s breeding range spans two continents, ends in northern Mexico, and the jaguar’s actual epicenter of abundance is located in South America.”

 The study shows how FWS is using opinion of so-called jaguar experts rather than hard data.  This goes counter to the requirements of ESA which states that design of Critical Habitat much be based on the best scientific data available rather than upon concepts and principles of conservation biology which rely on assumptions.

 The study examines reports of jaguar sightings in Arizona and New Mexico and shows why they do not meet the standards of scientific evidence of “essential” habitat.  The study documents that several jaguars were transported into the U.S. for the purpose of big game hunts and “seeding” a population for future hunts.  Jaguar sightings can be attributed to some of these jaguars rather than natural ranging of jaguars.

 The study also alleges that  false and mis-representative statements, published in the  2011 Arizona Game & Fish Department Jaguar Conservation Assessment, have been used by FWS to form a basis for Critical Habitat designation.

 The study shows FWS “misrepresents the distribution of jaguars within the United States by erroneously claiming that jaguars once occurred as far north as Santa Fe, New Mexico.”  PNRCD shows, however, that FWS errs in its attribution because the claim is actually based on a jaguar sighted near Santa Fe, Argentina, and not from New Mexico or the North American continent at all.

 The PNRCD study notes that “The premise that resident populations of jaguars existed in Arizona and New Mexico before 1900 is unsupported by the scientific record, and the scientific record of jaguars killed in Arizona and New Mexico after 1900 is fraught with discrepancies, inaccuracies, duplications and unreliability.”  The study also notes “that neither Padre Kino nor Juan Mateo Manje make any mention of jaguars in what is today Arizona despite their many entradas into southern Arizona conducted during the late 1600s and early 1700s, and when it is also considered that the Spanish offered no bounties on jaguars, ever, in what is today Arizona and New Mexico, respectively.”  If a natural population of jaguars  existed in Arizona in the early days, one would think that someone would have taken note.

 PNRCD provides thorough review of the historic records of jaguar occurrence for Arizona and New Mexico. As the PNRCD’s review clearly reveals, many of those records heretofore assumed by all researchers to be accurate and reliable are, in fact, both inaccurate and unreliable.  Moreover, this review found that ten fatal flaws compromise the scientific integrity of both the characterization of those records by editors, researchers and the Service to date, and, all conclusions and models of alleged suitable jaguar habitat and residency based on the use thereof.

 These ten, fatal scientific flaws are:

1) Use of inaccurate and unreliable records.

2) Reliance on the unfounded assumption that all recorded natural history of jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico began in the year 1900.

3) Reliance on and propagation of the false assumption that all sightings of jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico are of “naturally occurring” animals when many were actually of foreign origin and imported and released by humans for hunting purposes.

4) Failure to examine primary records and adequately verify cited data and literature for accuracy (an universal error).

5) Failure to present the specific dataset used in the model.

6) Failure to cite data sources or other sources for specific records.

7) Speculation that the location where a jaguar was killed, or in some cases where it was first sighted in the United States, somehow represents its preferred natural habitat.

8) Failure to acknowledge the existence of data rejected or omitted, and failure to explain why certain data was rejected or omitted when the reason is neither obvious nor apparent to the reader.

9) Failure to identify a specific jaguar in an occurrence record.

10) Failure to properly verify the data to prevent according duplicative records to the same jaguar.

 The last part of the PNRCD study shows how the FWS proposal fails to conform to the law in designating Critical Habitat for the jaguar.

See also:

Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine

Should the Acuna cactus receive Federal protection?

Acuna-cactus-300x225The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the acuna cactus (Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis)  as an endangered species and establish critical habitat for it in Arizona.  Will such a listing and critical habitat actually have a positive effect on the cactus?

As described by FWS, the Acuna cactus is a small, spherical cactus, usually single-stemmed, that can be up to 16 inches  tall and 3.5 inches wide.  Rose, pink, or lavender flowers which are produced in March.  The fruits are pale green and contain small, black seeds.   This cactus occurs in valleys and on small knolls and gravel ridges of up to 30 percent slope in the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert scrub at 365 to 1,150 m (1,198 to 3,773 ft) in elevation.

In a press release, FWS says, “Current evidence suggests that the acuña cactus and Fickeisen plains cactus are in danger of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future.”  The Arizona Daily Star puts it more dramatically: “Small cactus in Organ Pipe National Monument faces extinction.”

Let’s look at the threat assessment according to FWS (from Federal Register vol. 77, no. 192):

Urbanization:

Urbanization near Ajo and Florence may have direct or indirect effects on the cactus, but these areas comprise “less than 21 percent of known living acuna cactus individuals.”  “The majority of the range in the United States is protected from urban development because populations are on Federal lands, where little or no development will take place. In addition, most populations of the acuna cactus are relatively remote or otherwise protected from the effects of urbanization. We conclude that urban development and site degradation is not currently a threat to any entire population of the acuna cactus.”

Cattle grazing:

About 65 percent of acuna cactus occur in National Parks or National Monuments and are thus protected from cattle grazing.  Cattle grazing is not a threat.

Border Activities:

About 78 percent of known living acuna cactus live along or near the U.S.-Mexican border.  FWS concludes that “cross-border violators” are a threat the cactus habitat.

Invasive species:

Throughout the Sonoran Desert invasive species such as bufflegrass, red brome, and Lehmann’s love grass “have altered nutrient regimes; species composition and structure; and fire frequency, duration, intensity, and magnitude.”  However, FWS is not aware of any effect on populations of acuna cactus and concludes that invasive species pose no threat.

Mining:

FWS says, “We are aware of no acuna cactus populations that are currently impacted by active mining.”   “We conclude that current and future mining activity is not a threat to the acuna cactus and its habitat.”

Drought and Climate Change:

After a very long discussion, FWS concludes that “drought and the effects of climate change, combined with insect predation, rise to a rangewide level threat.”

Disease or predation:

FWS concludes “that predation is a threat that is resulting in significant population impacts to the acuna cactus, and this threat is expected to continue into the future.”

To summerize, FWS says that the cactuses are threatened by “border activities,” climate change, and by predation or disease.

Wryheat conclusion:

Listing the cactus as endangered and establishing critical habitat will only make the “border activity” problem worse because it will limit enforcement activities.

I do not see how the endangerment listing and establishment of critical habitat could have any impact on the effects of climate change, predation by animals, or upon disease.

The conclusion, therefore, is that the acuna cactus should not be listed; it’s just a waste of time, money, and resources.

Acuna-cactus-300x225

Save the Dragons! (satire alert)

Since the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and radical environmentalists want to establish “Critical Habitat” for the very rare jaguar in Southern Arizona, I propose they also consider protecting habitat for a predator just slightly rarer than jaguars: dragons. Maybe dragons don’t currently live here, but that shouldn’t be a problem, since USFWS and Pima County aim to reintroduce several other animals that don’t live here either.

When speaking of dragons, I don’t mean those common creatures like the little horned dragon of Australia or the larger Komodo dragon of Indonesia; no, I mean the big, flying, fire-breathing western dragons of legend. They must be an endangered species; you don’t see them around much any more. Imagine the large habitat they would require. USFWS and Pima County could control tens of thousands of acres as habitat for each dragon. And, dragons would tend to thin out all those nasty cows that enviros claim are destroying our desert and forests.

Some skeptics may think that dragons are just a myth. But I will prove, using the best available science, and biological logic at least as good as that appearing in Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, that these fire-breathers could actually exist, and may have existed in Arizona. However, because peer-reviewed, scientifically rigorous, published accounts of known populations are few, habitat modeling based on environmental characteristics and the “best guess” of dragonologists must be used in constructing a model of dragon physiology and habitat requirements.

First, we have the anecdotal evidence. Dragons, with surprisingly similar characteristics, are mentioned in the annals of many cultures ranging from England, Scandinavia, Africa, the Middle East, India, and China. Dragons are even mentioned frequently in the Bible, though mainly with bad press. Some sculptures in Mayan ruins of Central America feature both snakes and dragon-like creatures. The Apache Indians of Arizona have a dragon legend. It seems that dragons were more common than pygmy owls.

 Western dragons (a species separate from the Chinese wingless dragon) are reputed to be up to 90 feet long and at least 10 feet thick. They can fly; and not only that, they can hover. They can expel fire; their blood is said to be caustic or poisonous; and they are reputed to horde gold. Although reputed characteristics of Western dragons may sound improbable at first, I will present a unified theory of dragons, showing that all these characteristics are not only probable, but necessary.

The key to dragon theory is their manner of flight. Aerodynamic calculations show conclusively that such big animals could not fly if they depended solely upon their wings. Ask not how such a large animal could fly; ask, instead, why the animal needed to be so large in order to fly.

The answer is that dragons were dirigibles. Rather than being constructed like a dinosaur or snake, dragon bodies were actually filled with a honey-comb of hollow bones and “lifting” bladders which captured vast quantities of hydrogen that made dragons nearly weightless. The wings were not for lift, but merely for propulsion and maneuvering.

 Hydrogen may be produced by hydrochloric acid (HCl) in dragon digestive juices. Hydrochloric acid is the common digestive juice of most animals, including humans. When HCl attacks calcium in the lifting bladders, we have a reaction which produces hydrogen: Ca + 2HCl = H2 + CaCl2. Calcium chloride is the mineral hydrophilite which is found associated with the exhalations of volcanoes, and, perhaps, dragons. Of course, in the organic system, things are more complicated, but this shows the general principle.

Some dragonologists say that methane (CH4), a byproduct of digestion, also contributed to the flammable lifting gas of western dragons. This process explains much about dragons. They are reputed to live in caves which are usually found in limestone country, and limestone is calcium carbonate. The streams and lakes around the area would be rich in the calcium needed to replenish their supply. Perhaps dragons even ingested limestone pebbles, much as dinosaurs did. That, too, would help replenish the calcium.

 Dragons expelled fire for two reasons. First, because they lived in caves, expelling hydrogen (and methane) would soon make the habitat unliveable, unless it was burned off. Secondly, they controlled their buoyancy in flight by producing and expelling hydrogen. The mixture of hydrogen and oxygen is highly flammable. There is some question as to how dragons would have ignited the mixture. Some dragonologists propose an electric spark. We know that certain animals, such as electric eels, produce an electric charge, but there is a question of sufficient voltage to make a spark. It has also been proposed that dragons ignited the hydrogen using an exothermic chemical reaction. We know, for instance, that bombadier beetles ward off attackers by producing a liquid emission which has a temperature of several hundred degrees. Or maybe dragons had flinty teeth. It is not a great leap of faith to suppose that dragons could have ignited hydrogen by these processes.

Dragons were actually rather fragile animals, that’s why they stayed in their caves so much. They were nearly defenseless against the knight and his sword, because the sword would puncture the hydrogen bladders and quickly ground the dragon. The puncture would allow hydrochloric acid to seep out, giving rise to the legend of caustic blood.

 How did such a creature evolve? Perhaps much like birds. An upright dinosaur would run and leap. To gain speed, the solid bone structure would become a lighter lattice of bones like that in birds, rabbits, and deer. Over the millennia, flaps of skin and bones would allow the leaps to become glides and the glides to become flight. Perhaps the dinosaurs that became dragons where particularly dyspeptic and the gas was gradually put to good use. Because dragons were actually such light creatures, they needed to feed only once or twice a month, another characteristic of legend. They would fly out from their lairs and attack cattle in the field, spouting flame to help control their flight. That they devoured a princess or two on the way is probably just a vicious lie.

Several radical enviro groups are campaigning to reintroduce large carnivores to the continental U.S. Why deal with puny pumas, gratuitous grizzlies, wandering wolves, or journeying jaguars when you can have a really big zoophagous dragon?

We’ve seen from the discussion above, that potential habitat for dragons must include mountains for their caves, prairies for the cattle, and riparian areas for a water source. Dragons would be a splendid “umbrella” species, for, by preserving dragon habitat, we necessarily preserve habitat for many other animals.

I’ve accounted for all the reported characteristics of dragons, save one: the collection of gold. While this may in fact be a myth, there is a reason why dragons would collect gold nuggets. Because of the caustic nature of HCl and hydrogen, a dragon would tend to line its nest with material that is not easily affected by the caustic nature of its physiology. Gold is such a substance. Do you suppose that accounts of lost treasure, such as the Peralta and Lost Dutchman mines, could actually be descriptions of fossil dragon nests? If so, then this is evidence that dragons once inhabited Arizona.

Given the government’s penchant for spending money on, shall we say, special projects, perhaps we could attract dragons by lining a few caves with gold nuggets. Taxpayers shouldn’t mind this expense, after all, we subsidize otherwise uneconomic solar and wind energy ventures, as well as electric cars. Just think of the pleasure of seeing, on a dark night, within the mountain vastness, the flames from bull dragons proclaiming their territories by trumpeting and spouting fire. This project has all the merit of establishing “Critical Habitat” for jaguars.

 Save the dragons!

[Note: the idea for the manner for dragon flight was proposed by Peter Dickinson in his whimsical book “The Flight of Dragons.” See that and other Dickinson works by visiting his website: http://peterdickinson.com/ ]

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine

JaguarThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) will seek public comment on its proposal to designate “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar in Southern Arizona and New Mexico. USFWS had previously determined that Critical Habitat “for the jaguar in the United States would not be prudent.” However, an Arizona District Court found that the previous decision was “not legally sufficient.”

The proposal is not scientifically sufficient either. Two years ago I wrote:

A Freedom of Information Act inquiry has revealed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service decision to declare portions of Arizona and New Mexico as “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar has no basis in fact. USFWS based its decision on unsubstantiated anecdotal stories that did not meet the Endangered Species Act definition of minimum scientific standards. The inquiry also found possible collusion between an employee of the Arizona Fish and Game Department and the Center for Biological Diversity. The report of the inquiry was written by Biologist/Attorney Dennis Parker.

Read the rest of that story in my article: Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science. At the time that story was written the USFWS claimed that designation of “Critical Habitat” was “prudent”, i.e., it was prudent before it was not prudent and now it is prudent again.

FWS is now proposing “Critical Habitat” again. From a FWS press release:

The Service has identified 838,232 acres in six units in primarily mountainous portions of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that will be considered for potential critical habitat. These include 547,000 acres of Federal land; 111,741 acres of State of Arizona land; 76,329 acres of Tribal land; and 103,143 acres of private lands. Critical habitat designations have no effect on actions taking place on non-federal lands unless proposed activities involve federal funding or permitting.

I wonder if collecting Social Security payments would be considered “federal funding” and trigger the bureaucratic implications on private land.

The proposed Rosemont copper mine would be directly impacted by “Critical Habitat” designation because the mine site occurs in the northern end of the designated lands (see map from the Arizona Daily Star below).

The Rosemont mine’s footprint is about 4,400 acres according to the Arizona Daily Star. That’s 0.5% of the whole area. Is that half percent really critical? The portion of habitat occupied by the mine is broken in four places by highways. The Arizona Daily Star notes that the proposed “Critical Habitat” “includes areas known to have been occupied by jaguars since 1962, or land considered essential for the animal even if jaguars haven’t been seen there in recent decades.”

So, if jaguars haven’t been seen for decades, how “critical” is the land? In the last twenty years, there have been about a half dozen jaguar sightings throughout Southern Arizona and all those sightings have been of male jaguars. It is obvious that Southern Arizona is not breeding ground for jaguars. Those few male jaguars have wandered north from their main breeding areas in Mexico. Southern Arizona is obviously not “critical” to jaguar breeding.

I find it curious that the proposed “Critical Habitat” includes the Rosemont site, the site of mineral exploration farther south near Patagonia, and the water source for the City of Tombstone, but does not include the Chiricahua Mountains farther to the east near the New Mexico portion of proposed habitat. According to the National Park Service, “The Chiricahua mountains were also historically the home of the jaguar.” Of course, there are no known economic mineral deposits in the Chiricahua Mountains.  That makes it look like the radical environmentalists and USFWS are targeting potentially productive land to make them off limits.

Another question: How will designation of “Critical Habitat” affect border security?

The jaguar’s range extends through Mexico, Central America, and much of South America.  A few thousand acres in Arizona will not make a difference to the species as a whole.  This whole jaguar issue shows how the Endangered Species Act can be abused.  ESA should be repealed.

This “Critical Habitat” proposal is scientifically unjustified. It is just another green utopian obstacle placed in the path of job creation and beneficial use of the land.

Jaguar-critical-habitat

 

Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science

JaguarA Freedom of Information Act inquiry has revealed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to declare portions of Arizona and New Mexico as “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar has no basis in fact. USFWS based its decision on unsubstantiated anecdotal stories that did not meet the Endangered Species Act definition of minimum scientific standards. The inquiry also found possible collusion between an employee of the Arizona Fish and Game Department and the Center for Biological Diversity. The report of the inquiry was written by Biologist/Attorney Dennis Parker. Here is the press release:

 

“GROUPS CHARGE CORRUPTION, JUNK SCIENCE BEHIND EXPANDED JAGUAR PROTECTIONS IN ARIZONA & NEW MEXICO.”

In a recent letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association (SACPA), the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties, the Pima Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD), the Whitewater Draw NRCD, and People for the West strongly urged the agency to reverse its decision that critical habitat is “prudent” for jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico. The letter shows that under the ESA, and based solely on the best science available, habitat “essential” to the jaguar’s existence does not exist in the United States. Furthermore, studies have proven that well managed livestock grazing poses no threat to jaguars or their habitat.

“The Department of Interior just announced a new policy favoring sound science over political misconduct,” said SACPA president Cindy Coping. “To honor their own policy the USFWS must reverse their unsound but politically fashionable decision that won’t help the jaguar and does threaten to destroy hundreds of rural jobs in two states.”

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry revealed that the agency’s decision relied heavily on a 2005 conference presentation that lacked supporting data and fails to meet the ESA definition of minimum scientific standards.

Another public records search revealed that an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) authorized a $999.99 payment to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to create a jaguar habitat model for New Mexico. The CBD’s model was a substitute for, and produced conclusions far different from, the sound scientific conclusions already published by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The CBD had a then recent history of publishing maliciously false information about endangered species and livestock grazing. That charge, proven in court, was already a matter of widespread public knowledge when the AGFD employee engaged the CBD to produce a substitute habitat model for New Mexico.

“The payment itself, one cent below the level we understand requires Commission approval, raises serious questions about the AGFD employee’s intentions,” Coping said. “These issues involve authority and abuse of such, improper bias, conflict of interest, and the unprecedented extraterritorial extension of AGFD authority over the State of New Mexico,” wrote Dennis Parker, the wildlife biologist/attorney who authored the comments.” These facts alone warrant suspension of any critical habitat designation for the jaguar in the United States until this serious situation is fully investigated and explained,” he added. At least two of the supposed “verified” jaguars mentioned in the Arizona habitat models were likely not naturally occurring, but rather, animals of foreign origin captured and imported into the United States for the purpose of “guaranteed” hunting. At least 9 such imported jaguars were introduced into New Mexico in 1972 and 1973 alone, including at least one female that escaped. Recent journal published studies from Brazil prove that both the range and numbers of jaguars expanded where domestic livestock were introduced, due to the more dependable prey base. In fact, Brazilian cattle ranches support the highest densities and numbers of jaguars found anywhere. Moreover, both the historic and the recent record of transient jaguar occurrences in the Southwest indicate that modern, highly controlled livestock grazing poses no threat to the few jaguars that sometimes wander across the Mexican border onto neighboring Arizona and New Mexico ranchlands.

All of the citizen organizations represented in the carefully documented letter sent to the USFWS care deeply about the management of landscapes in Arizona and New Mexico where ranching has been and continues to be the dominant land use keeping habitat largely intact and undeveloped for more than 300 years.

###

For more information, please contact Cindy Coping, SACPA president, at (303) 905-4041.

Read the full 15-page report here.

Some excerpts from the report:

“While one transient male jaguar, Macho B, did roam the borderlands of Arizona and Sonora for more than a decade until last year, his extensive travels prior to his death indicates he was having a difficult time surviving in this dry, rugged region. Moreover, his persistent presence in the borderlands was also artificially induced by the placement of female jaguar scent (in the form of scat of captive females in season) at camera locations on the United States side of the boundary with Mexico.”

“Finally, if Arizona and New Mexico actually qualified as critical habitat, or habitat “essential” to the existence of the jaguar as a species, then both common sense and objective science would necessarily demand that, at a minimum, female jaguars be shown to reside in those States. The facts conclusively show that they do not and that no female jaguar has been shown to occur in Arizona, even on a highly questionable and suspect basis, since 1963. The facts also reveal that no [wild] female jaguar has been verified to have occurred in New Mexico — ever.”

This is just one more example of why we should Repeal the Endangered Species Act.