The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the US Fish and Wildlife service asking that they develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for jaguars in the US.
To be honest, my feelings are mixed when it comes to this and other lawsuits of this type. I have a natural dislike of legal wrangling and I do feel they take money from both sides that could be used for better purposes. It’s internecine squabbling that moves focus from other dangers that I think of as more insidious and dangerous- the proposed border fence and public apathy, to name two. Granted, someone like Michael Robinson might reply that a recovery plan and critical habitat would go a long ways towards solving those two problems. Perhaps. But I worry about the damage lawsuits can do to the relationship between NGO’s and government employees- again, it’s a case of having similar (somewhat similar?) strategic goals but totally different tactical methods.
On the other side of the coin, no one can deny that a. bureaucracies tend towards inertia and b. sometimes it takes an outside force to effect change. If politics are trumping science and law, then I want someone like CBD shaking the cages and helping to protect El Tigre.
I’m a great believer in the old adage that if the only tool you have is a hammer, then all your problems begin to resemble a nail. It seems to me that the jaguar in the Southwest needs all the friends it can get, with their whole array of tools, if it is to prosper. It needs the dedicated and undervalued researcher busting his or her hump setting up camera traps, collecting scat and gathering other data. And it needs the rancher or other landowner to find a place on his land (and in his heart) to allow the big cat to go about its business. The conservation community has a role, too; making sure that the judicious use of legal action keeps things on track, in addition to putting their $$ where their mouths are (he who pays the piper calls the tune, eh?). And let’s not forget the state and federal employees who are trying to maneuver through a maze of conflicting forces, when all they wanted to do originally was have a job that would make a difference and let them be outside. So, folks, we’re all in this together and the jaguar is depending on us. I say let’s bring all of our differing (differing, not better, not worse) gifts to the table and help this magnificent cat.
For me what it boils down to is sights like this: