Sunday, November 23, 2014

$200,000 of Homeland Security funds spent on jaguar “attitudes” surveys

by Cindy Coping

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) more than $2 Million of its own funding to spend on jaguar recovery in the United States border region instead of securing the border. USFWS has already spent $775,000 of that funding to place camera traps around southern Arizona and New Mexico in hopes of photographing jaguars and ocelots. More recently, according to Greenwire, another $200,000 of Department of Homeland Security funds were spent to study ranchers’ attitudes toward jaguars. The survey results are to be incorporated into a jaguar recovery plan that is likely to be released in 2015.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) claims that human hunting and habitat destruction is a primary threat to jaguars. The linked article from the news service Greenwire spins this global statistical finding into misleading  innuendo that ranchers and hunters are the primary threat to jaguars in the southern USA. To the contrary over  the last 28 years, no jaguars have died at the hands of poachers, hunters or ranchers in the United States. In contrast, unprofessional, unethical and even illegal attempts by biologists to snare jaguars for study have inhumanely finished off at least four of the endangered beasts in the United States, northern Sonora and the Yucatan within the last decade.

This is not to say that information quoted directly from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees is by any means accurate. The Greenwire article quotes Mary Anderson, FWS border mitigation coordinator as stating,
“There’s a lot of concern by the public regarding the presence of jaguars in their area, and we’re just trying to find out what those concerns are so that we can educate the public.”
For instance, she said, if people don’t realize that jaguars mainly eat deer and javelinas, then that fact could “lessen concerns of the public regarding the threat of jaguars to humans.”
Apparently Ms. Anderson is unaware of the recent study by Cavalcanti and Gese showing that in Brazil, nearly one-third of a jaguar’s typical diet is beef cattle. She may also be unaware of several lethal attacks on humans by jaguars in Colombia, Belize and Guayana in the last five years, in addition to a three year old child that was taken from the front steps to her grandmother’s home by a jaguar that fractured her skull with its massive jaws. When we interviewed the world-class 1960’s-era jaguar hunting guide Curtis Prock, we learned that he was called upon twice in British Honduras to track down jaguars and recover the remains of children they had taken.

More importantly, lives are threatened directly by the failure of the U.S. Government to secure our southern border. The current policy compromises the safety and security of the nation so that transient, lone male jaguars can cross the border to hunt for nonexistent mates in Arizona and New Mexico. No naturally occurring female jaguar has been seen in Arizona since at least 1949, and that one is questionable. No naturally occurring female jaguar has ever been documented in New Mexico. There is no verifiable evidence that breeding populations of jaguars ever occurred naturally in Arizona or New Mexico. Many ranchers live between the border and the so-called “forward operating bases” of the U.S. Border Patrol. One of those ranchers, Robert Krentz, was murdered on his own property by a man he identified in his last radio transmission as an illegal immigrant. SACPA opposes this perversion of the Endangered Species Act which seems to be employed as a political excuse for continuous border insecurity.


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