Sunday, January 24, 2010

Critical Habitat Is Now Prudent for Jaguars?

By Judy Keeler and Sue Krentz

The recent ruling from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declaring critical habitat for jaguars in the U.S. is now prudent reverses every “finding” the Service has issued up until this time. In our opinion, it is one of the most ignorant, egregious and politically motivated decisions they’ve ever made.

We’ve served on the Jaguar Conservation Team since its inception in March of 1997. Through those years the Team has gathered the historical sightings records of jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico, consulted with wildlife biologists that are experts in jaguar behavior and habitat suitability, developed a jaguar conservation strategy based on this information, and an educational plan that promotes critical thinking skills in students.

The Service would benefit by using some of these critical thinking skills. In our opinion, their “finding” is not supported by the best available science, but based upon their fear of the Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuits, pseudo-science and for political expediency.

Although the Service claims to have reached their decision using the best available science, it’s obvious, to us, they didn’t.

If they intend to use the best available science to prepare their proposed rulemaking for jaguars they would not include some of the literature cited in their federal register notice as the “best available science”; i.e., Robinson 2006 and Sierra Institute 2000.

These reports were not taken seriously by most of the members of the Jaguar Conservation Team. In fact, the Sierra Institute’s report and recommendations to develop a captive breeding program and reintroduction plan for jaguars were challenged by the Jaguar Scientific Advisory Group. Yet, these reports are included in the Service’s notice.

The federal register notice also states that the Service will continue to subject “proposed” critical habitat in the U.S. to conservation actions under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, even though there is no science to support their assumption that jaguars currently occupy any area in the borderlands. What has been proven is there are corridors the recently sighted jaguars have used to enter the U.S. from Mexico.

These “corridors” should not be confused with historical jaguar reports and land-use suitability characteristics. Anyone that has lived in the borderland areas for any length of time is only too aware of drying trends over the last 500 years. It is well documented that jaguars are the only cats in the world that enjoy water. Where are they going to find it in the Borderlands?

The wildlife biologists that served on the jaguar advisory group believed "for at least the last century the jaguar has been a regular, albeit infrequent, visitor to a small area of the borderlands region.” They also surmised that "if there had been a resident breeding population of jaguars in the U.S. in the recent past, it was probably a very small population, short-lived, and not viable.”

So where’s this science in the federal register notice?

The Jaguar Conservation Team always tended to agree that Mexico and the countries in Central and South America were sovereign and we had no right to impose our jaguar conservation strategies on them. Not the Service. They will be using their “authority” to work with other agencies to conserve and recover jaguars in these nations.

Mexico will probably hate our arrogance but love the money we’ll be sending them to “conserve” jaguars in their country.

It saddens us that our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has sold out their integrity to comply with a federal judge’s order and the threat of more lawsuits when the Center doesn’t get its way.

Mark our words; this decision is just another step towards more lawsuits. If the Service does not comply with the Center’s every request, they will sue again, and again and again.

In an effort to be transparent, let’s lay all our cards on the table. The agenda behind the lawsuits, protests and media coverage is a plan called the Wildlands Project, or Wildlands Network as it is now named. These lawsuits are not meant to protect jaguars, wolves, polar bears, bats or any other “endangered” species. The animals are just the surrogates to implement the “plan”.

The Endangered Species Act is their tool and the citizen’s lawsuit provision is the means by which these radical organizations continue to hammer the economies of the small, rural communities that must live under their “Rewilding” scheme.

Sue Krentz and her husband Rob ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains of Southeast Arizona. The family has ranched in Arizona for over 100 years.

Judy Keeler and her husband Murray ranch in the Peloncillo Mountains in Southwest New Mexico. The family has ranched in New Mexico for over 100 years.

Both ladies are dedicated members of the Jaguar Conservation Team.

For additional information call:
Judy Keeler: 575-548-2520

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