Subject: FW: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT #53

Subject: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT #53

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
           SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #53
                       3/3/97           
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.  ARIZONA DAILY STAR SUPPORTS LISTING JAGUAR AS ENDANGERED


Arizona Daily Star, Editorial, March 3, 1997

Jaguar Sightings

Is the elusive, spectacular jaguar coming back to seek, in Tucson
author Greg McNamee's nice phrase, ``one last parley'' with the
region?

Two confirmed sightings south of here, plus some astonishing recent
photographs, say he is. And that makes it urgent state and federal
bureaucrats do more than they are now planning to protect the huge
cats.

Both Arizona and New Mexico have prepared a conservation agreement,
and they should complete it. Maybe the plan will even help the
beautiful animals filter back again into Arizona from Northern
Mexico, where they enjoy protection.

However, the scheme is vague and weak. It must not take the place of
a federal Endangered Species Act listing of North America's largest
feline, as state and federal officials want. By contrast, listing the
jaguar as an endangered species remains the preferred,
legally-obligatory instrument for recovery. To avoid that step
because the species law contains inconveniences in need of adjustment
would let myopia dictate policy.

To start, the status of the elusive spotted jaguar conforms to four
of the five legal criteria for a species' listing.

The warm, wet riverine habitat to which the huge cats gravitate is
threatened by development and grazing. Illegal hunting endangers the
animals. Only inadequate existing regulations protect the creatures.
By law, such conditions compel the jaguar's national listing.

As to the state agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can
sign agreements to permit states or counties to take responsibility
for local biodiversity. Theoretically, such pacts carry great promise
for connecting stewardship to local responsibility.

However, this deal in these circumstances does not make the grade.
First, its plans for Arizona and New Mexico barely refer to federal
land strategies, and speak not at all to jaguar endangerment in
California, Texas and Louisiana - the rest of the animal's historic
range.

Moreover, the stopgap agreement recommends almost no specific
actions to foster the big felines and remove threats to them.
Instead, the agreement focuses almost entirely on non-actions like
creating a ``Jaguar Conservation Team,'' information-gathering, and
``monitoring.'' Meanwhile, it provides only the vaguest
recommendations and promises of actual on-the-ground action to foster
the animals.

The document says only that ``perhaps'' state civil and criminal
penalties for taking jaguar ``could'' be toughened. It says only that
maybe land-management practices ``could be'' altered to protect
jaguar habitat from fragmentation and degradation. And it makes
everything contingent on the ``limits of available funding and
personnel.'' In short, the state plan would base jaguar stewardship
on the hope of future action rather than on the certainty of real
intervention.

Meanwhile, a much better course exists: Both the states and the
federal Fish and Wildlife Service should act to boost the species.
Concerted action would display seriousness; also, it would extend
stewardship to the most important habitat of all to the jaguar: the
millions of acres of federal land in the region. That would ensure
jaguar policy reached places like the Peloncillo Mountains and the
Chiricahuas - areas ignored by the state plan.

And a final reason remains for the Fish and Wildlife Service to list
the jaguar: Such action conforms to the law. Sure, the ESA entails
awkwardness. And maybe the Forest Service, for example, would rather
not have to ``consult'' to decide if it should remove cattle from
certain riparian corridors critical to the cats. But all the same,
the species law remains the nation's sound practice - the presiding,
imperfect, instrument by which this nation fosters troubled species.

Since the ghostly jaguar is most assuredly troubled, the way forward
is clear: Reform the species act, but don't stop using it in the
meantime because it falls short of perfection.

Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service what you think on the jaguar
listing by writing to:

Susan McMullen
Chief, Division of Endangered Species
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, NM 87103
_______________________________________________________________________________
Kieran Suckling                                       ksuckling@sw-center.org
Executive Director                                    phone:  520-733-1391
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity        fax:    520-733-1404
POB 17839, Tucson, AZ 85731                      www.envirolink.org/orgs/sw-center


_______________________________________________________________________________
Kieran Suckling                                       ksuckling@sw-center.org
Executive Director                                    phone:  520-733-1391
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity        fax:    520-733-1404
POB 17839, Tucson, AZ 85731                      www.envirolink.org/orgs/sw-center