11 Oct 2006

Jaguars Back in United States

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The New York Times (10/9) describes recent new photographs, and predicts the erection of the 700-mile Fence would result in the elimination of the jaguar in the United States.

Using the same clandestine routes as drug smugglers, male jaguars are crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Four of the elusive cats have been photographed in the last decade — one as recently as last February — in the formidable, rugged mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

And while no one knows exactly how many jaguars are here, or how long they hang around before sneaking back to their breeding grounds in Mexico, their presence has set off repercussions on both sides of the border.

At least 10 organizations are working to protect the jaguar in one or both countries. Conservationists are developing incentives to stop bounty hunters in Mexico from killing the big cats. Cameras have been set up near the border to monitor jaguar comings and goings and, inadvertently, the movements of “mules,” or drug runners.

Some environmentalists are pressing federal officials to declare parts of Arizona and New Mexico critical habitat for jaguars. But local ranchers and many jaguar experts say such a move is unnecessary because the animals show no signs of breeding here.

And then there is the fence. If the Border Patrol builds a 700-mile barrier in the region to deter illegal immigration, the natural corridors used by jaguars and other migratory wildlife will be cut off.

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One Feedback on "Jaguars Back in United States"

Joseph I. Vincent

Since wildlife researchers know jaguar immigration routes, and those of other animals, it would be easy to construct the border fence with gaps, where monitoring would be done by infra-red and/or constant video. Should make it easier to catch illegals also attracted to the gaps.



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