I’m very pleased to be able to post this Q&A with Bill Van Pelt, the head of the Nongame Bird and Mammal Program of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a leading member of the Jaguar Conservation Team. I thank Bill very much for taking time to answer my questions.
1. How did you come to be involved in jaguar conservation? I am the Nongame Bird and Mammals Program Manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the jaguar is classified as an endangered mammal.
2. How do you respond to those people who say that the JagTeam is not an effective conservation tool? The Jaguar Conservation Team (JAGCT) is a recognized forum for jaguar conservation.
We are active in jaguar conservation at local, national, and international levels. Information is exchanged by Team members at all levels. Team members recognize jaguar conservation is the ultimate goal but different groups select different avenues to pursue jaguar conservation.
3. What is the status of the plan to collar a jaguar in the SW and what data do you hope to collect by doing so? The Research subcommittee has forwarded a recommendation to the Jaguar Conservation Team Chair for consideration, we are awaiting for a reply.
4. Do you believe Macho A and Macho B are (were) transients from Mexico or residents of Arizona? Information collected indicates these animals probably originated in Mexico and used parts of Arizona. Through scent marking video obtained through the JAGCT monitoring and detection efforts, the Macho B has established a territory which include parts of Arizona.
5. What do believe the chances of having a breeding population in the US are? Very low
6. How many wild jaguars do you think are in the US? I believe one jaguar is regularly using parts of Arizona
7. How do you answer people who say the environmental destruction caused by border crossers is worse than any fence could ever be? I believe both are impacting wildlife. One is impacting wildlife now while the other has a long-term impact. It is difficult to weigh one worse than the other because society tends not to look at timeframes when making a judgments.
8. In your opinion, what is the future of jaguars in the US? For jaguars in the US, I see nothing different, my concern lies with those that are not here yet and may want to come here. Fence type and placement is going to be critical to the continued existence of jaguars using areas in southern Arizona.
9. Anything else you’d like to add? We have enjoyed a tremendous amount of participation from the public for the JAGCT and hope it continues.