What's wrong with the Jaguar Recovery Plan?

Que interesante- If you haven't seen the article Jaguars Don't Live Here Anymore, it's well worth a read. In it, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz lays out the definitive critique of current jaguar politics in the U.S.

When I recently blogged about jaguar recovery, I lamented the dearth of information about jaguar habitat requirements in the southwest. But I still thought that the recovery plan would be considered a conservation victory. Rabinowitz, who has studied jaguars and several other species of large cats for nearly 30 years, presents a different take. He argues that the southwestern U.S. is marginal jaguar habitat, and as such, is not capable of supporting a viable population.

This is an important point in light of the much-anticipated, and much-litigated, development of a jaguar recovery plan- announced earlier this month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Full on recovery of the species could involve long, drawn-out, expensive efforts like re-introducing the cats to places where it would be hard, if not impossible, for them to thrive.

If it's not feasible to establish jaguar populations in this country, this use of funds, resources, personnel, and jaguars could be misdirected. Dr. Rabinowtz suggests that our energies could be better spent conserving jaguar habitat in areas where the animals do live- south of our border. Viable jaguar populations span from Mexico to Argentina, and the cats face a myriad of threats along the way; habitat fragmentation, persecution by humans, deforestation, political borders.....

If the creation of a federal recovery plan encourages friends of the jaguar in the U.S. to focus on an unrealistic goal instead of helping conserve what is left of jaguar habitat, maybe it isn't such a good thing... I stand corrected.

Photo Caption: Macho B, February 2008

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