A federal judge has ruled that the Bush administration’s “creative” method of ignoring jaguar recovery is contrary to the legal requirements of the Endangered Species Act and has ordered a recovery plan and a new decision on critical habitat by next January 8th. Regardless of how you feel about critical habitat, I think this is a good ruling for the integrity of the ESA. If the USFWS can ignore recovery plans for species that are too inconvenient or controversial, according to the political winds that blow from DC then what good is the Act? This was the thin edge of the wedge seeking to undermine the ESA. Large carnivores are probably the toughest aninmals on Earth to manage- they need vast amounts of land to wander, they sometimes eat livestock and they can scare some people. I also think that the trick now will be to avoid a ranchers vs environmentalists schism among jag lovers. The forces of “development”, extraction and pavement would love nothing more than seeing a nasty fight between these two factions.If you doubt there’s not a large anti-conservation feeling in this country check out the comment sections on some jaguar articles. It’s full of blazing insights like, “these cats are not native, they are from Central and South America” , “any jaguar can leap any fence they put up at the border” and “they probably found some blue jeans and sneaker pieces in Macho B’s stomach.” People who think like that will not miss the presence of apex predators; they will look no further than their own comfort. It’s up to us to forge a plan that all concerned can live with. So, let’s look to compromise- if both ends will give a bit we can come up with something we can all get behind. I don’t for a minute believe that people who love jaguars, wild lands and wild places are incapable of working together, regardless of what they feel about things like Macho B’s death, “science” vs “emotion”, etc., etc. A refocusing upon the goal of jaguars thriving in the US is needed, IMHO. Forget finger-pointing, fundraising, bruised egos and strident emails. If Macho B left a few cubs behind as a surprise let’s give them the protection, space and prey base they deserve. Viva El Tigre!
Ok, here’s a link to CBD’s press release and the AZ Star article is below:
Judge orders fed to prepare recovery plan for endangered jaguar
As of late this morning, the service had not yet commented on the decision. Under the law, it has a choice to appeal or comply with the court’s ruling to prepare a recovery plan and designate critical habitat.