Fish and Wildlife announces jaguar recovery plan

May 11, 2019

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the binational Jaguar Recovery Team have completed the final Endangered Species Act recovery plan for the jaguar, currently listed under the act as endangered.

The plan provides a recovery framework and goals for improving the species’ status throughout its entire 19-country range while focusing on the jaguar populations in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

The final recovery plan describes two large jaguar recovery units — the Pan-American Recovery Unit, where jaguars occupy habitat from eastern Mexico to northern Argentina, and the Northwestern Recovery Unit extending from Colima State in western Mexico to the U.S. Southwest.

More than 99 percent of the jaguar’s range is in Central and South America, so the plan recognizes that countries within the Pan-American Recovery Unit will be the principal contributors to its recovery. The service will continue to promote jaguar recovery throughout the range of the jaguar, including continued funding support.

Since 2012, jaguars have been spotted in Cochise County three times. The closest was Nov. 16, 2016, by a trail camera in the Dos Cabezas Mountains south of Willcox.

A male jaguar was documented in the Whetstone and Santa Rita mountains sometime between 2011 and 2015, and another male jaguar was spotted in the Huachuca Mountains in December 2016 and January 2017.

Since 1996, seven individual male jaguars have been documented in the United States, all in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. These jaguars are believed to have come from the nearest core area and breeding population, approximately 130 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in Sonora.

The binational recovery team has not prescribed jaguar reintroductions in the United States but calls for focusing efforts on sustaining potential habitat. In addition, the plan calls for establishing at least two borderland dispersal corridors for jaguars’ continued movement through remote, rugged habitat between the countries, eliminating poaching, and improving social acceptance of the jaguar to accommodate its return to the United States.

“The binational recovery team’s scientific expertise in protecting the jaguar has been invaluable,” said Amy Lueders, the service’s Southwest regional director. “We recognize the challenges involved in conserving and recovering a species with such an expansive international range, and the team has laid out a comprehensive plan with goals that are achievable and realistic. We look forward to continuing to work with our diverse partners on this effort within and outside the United States.”

Conservation efforts include providing incentives for protecting jaguar habitat and prey, education campaigns addressing misinformation and fears, and providing landowners with strategies for co-existing with jaguars.

Recovery plans are not regulatory but provide a framework for recovery of a species so protection under the Endangered Species Act is no longer necessary.

The Jaguar Recovery Plan is available at: https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/Jaguar.htm or by request from Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Office, 9828 North 31st Ave., No. C3, Phoenix, AZ 85051–2517; phone 602-242-0210.