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Action timeline

April 4, 1994 – The Center filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to decide whether to list the jaguar under the Endangered Species Act.

July 22, 1997 – As a result of a Center lawsuit, the Service listed the jaguar as endangered. Originally listed under the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act, the jaguar had lost protection in the United States in 1973 due to an administrative “oversight.”

July 21, 2003 – The Center filed its first lawsuit, along with Defenders of Wildlife, to compel the Service to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for endangered jaguars in the United States. This led to another governmental refusal to take action.

2006 – The Center led the Jaguar Conservation Team to identify and map 62 million acres of potential jaguar habitat in New Mexico and Arizona. In the same year, in response to a Federal Register notice requesting updated scientific information on the jaguar’s status, the Center filed comments with the Service documenting that the jaguar previously ranged from California to the Carolinas.

June 10, 2007 – The Center’s cooperation with scientists induced the prestigious American Society of Mammalogists to endorse the designation of critical habitat and a recovery plan for jaguars in the United States.

August 2, 2007 – The Center filed suit for a second time to compel the Service to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for American jaguars.

February 29, 2008 – In response to a 2007 Center lawsuit, the Service issued a determination that developing a recovery plan for the jaguar would not promote the species’ conservation. The Center issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue the agency for violating the Endangered Species Act.

April 30, 2008 – The Center sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for refusing to admit that a recovery plan would help the jaguar recover.

March 9, 2009 – When the Arizona Fish and Game Department euthanized Macho B — the last known U.S. jaguar — after twice capturing and sedating him, the Center sent a request letter calling for an independent medical investigation to determine whether his death could have been prevented. Arizona Game and Fish claimed he needed to be euthanized because of kidney failure.

March 23, 2009 – For the third time, the Center went to court to argue for the development of a recovery plan and the designation of critical habitat for the jaguar.

March 30, 2009 – A federal judge struck down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to develop a recovery plan for the jaguar and protect critical habitat areas in the United States, ordering the agency to issue new decisions on a recovery plan and critical habitat by January 2010.

April 2, 2009 – After a post-mortem examination revealed that Macho B’s death was the result of mismanagement and could have been prevented, Arizona Game and Fish announced it would begin an investigation of its own role in the situation. The Center, along with Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law-enforcement division to step to conduct a fair, independent investigation.

May 12, 2009 – The Center filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue Arizona Game and Fish for unlawfully causing the death of Macho B, since the agency never had a permit to capture him in the first place.

September 24, 2009 – The Center filed suit against Arizona Game and Fish, asserting that it had never had a permit to set snares and take other actions that might injure or kill jaguars.

December 9, 2009 – The Center filed briefs in federal court demonstrating that Arizona Game and Fish was continuing to claim its right to trap for mountain lions and bears in areas where jaguars may occur — despite not having a permit to do so.

January 6, 2010 – With a deadline for a federal decision looming, the Center and 36 other conservation organizations wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to designate critical habitat and develop a recovery plan for the jaguar.

January 12, 2010 – In response to the Center’s extensive litigation, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would designate critical habitat for the jaguar in the United States, as well as develop a federal recovery plan.

January 21, 2010 – The Interior Department’s inspector general released a report concluding that Macho B had been intentionally caught by employees of Arizona Game and Fish, directly contradicting statements made by the agency. The report also found that the agency did not have a permit to capture a jaguar, either purposefully or incidentally.

March 15, 2010 – In comments submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center proposed the designation of approximately 27 million acres in Arizona and 26 million acres in New Mexico as critical habitat for endangered jaguars, as well as smaller areas in Southern California and west Texas.

April 30, 2010 – The Center  formally notified the predator-control branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, that we would file suit over Wildlife Services’ traps, snares, and poisons, which risk injuring or killing endangered jaguars and ocelots in the Southwest.

June 14, 2010 – The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to the Arizona Game and Fish Department allowing the state agency to “take” jaguars and ocelots, which can include killing, injuring or otherwise harming the rare felines.

July 26, 2010 – The Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for issuing a permit to the Arizona Game and Fish Department authorizing incidental “take” of endangered jaguars through setting traps and snares.

November 19, 2011 – For the first time since 2009, a jaguar was found roaming the wilds of southern Arizona. The jaguar was photographed by a hunter and confirmed by Arizona Game and Fish to be a roughly 200-pound male in good condition. 

August 17, 2012 – The Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed to protect 838,232 acres — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — as "critical habitat" for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico.

October 1, 2012 – The Center submitted formal comments showing that the Service's "recovery outline" — an outline laying out the basics of what the jaguar's recovery plan was to be — was inadequate because it excluded prime jaguar habitat.

October 19, 2012 – In more comments submitted to the Service, the Center provided evidence of jaguars' need for millions more acres of protected habitat to recover in the Southwest.

June 1, 2013 – An additional 19,905 acres of protected habitat was proposed for jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico, including areas in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains where a lone jaguar had been caught on camera several times in the previous nine months.

March 4, 2014   In response to our lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service today finalized protection for 764,207 acres, or 1,194 square miles, of habitat for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico (map). 

Photo © Robin Silver