Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 3, 2016

Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504,

Federal Wildlife Agency Gives Approval to Harm America’s Only Known Jaguar

Proposed Rosemont Mine Also Threatens Ocelot, Rare Fish and Other Imperiled Wildlife

TUCSON, Ariz.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued its final analysis of the effects of the proposed Rosemont Mine on threatened and endangered species in the area. The formal document, called a “biological opinion,” gives approval to the mine despite admitting that it will destroy the home of America’s only known jaguar, nicknamed “El Jefe” by Tucson schoolchildren, and harm a number of other imperiled species. The Rosemont copper mine would blast a mile-wide, 3,000-foot-deep open pit in the heart of El Jefe’s home territory near Tucson and bury thousands of acres of surrounding public land with billions of tons of toxic mine waste.

El Jefe video
Photo of “El Jefe” the jaguar by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity. This photo is available for media use. Our exclusive video of El Jefe is available for media to embed from our Facebook page or by download.

“The agency charged with protecting America’s most vulnerable wildlife thinks it’s just fine for a foreign mining company to harm our only known jaguar,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This outrageous decision, which was contradicted by the agency’s own scientists, will not withstand judicial scrutiny.”

The Rosemont biological opinion has gone through multiple iterations. It was first released more than two years ago and then retracted. The conclusions regarding the jaguar in the final document released today remain largely the same as in the previous version. Documents obtained by the Center through the Freedom of Information Act showed that, in four different drafts of the previous document, agency scientists concluded that the mine would cause unacceptable harm to the jaguar, but their conclusions were reversed at higher levels of the agency.

“This is just the latest example of a very disturbing trend — politics continues to trump science when it comes to protecting America’s disappearing wildlife,” said Serraglio. “There is no rational justification for approving this incredibly destructive mine in this very sensitive place, especially when copper mines are closing down as the industry continues to free fall with an existing over-supply of copper.”

The biological opinion outlines impacts to a number of other species, including the Gila chub and Gila topminnow, two rare fish with keystone populations in nearby Cienega Creek. The mine would use a tremendous amount of water, enough to supply tens of thousands of single-family homes.

“Rosemont’s insatiable groundwater pumping will lower the water table and dry up Cienega Creek, which depends entirely on groundwater for its base flow,” said Serraglio. “If Rosemont is allowed to suck the creek dry, the fish will have nowhere to go.”

Earlier this year, millions of people watched the first-ever video released of El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar in the United States. The jaguar was named after a voting contest with Tucson school children and also now has a local beer named after it.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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