Jaguar Population to Make a Comeback in U.S.?

Jaguar (onça-pintada em português), Hotel Fazenda San francisco, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. (Photo: Bart vanDorp)

The last known jaguar (Sombra) in the U.S. could be getting a mate soon if the Center for Biological Diversity has its say. Last month, the environmental group petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce jaguars to the southwest. 

Jaguars had thriving populations in Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico. However, due to livestock protection and fur trapping, these big cats’ population has dwindled to dangerously low numbers. There is only a handful of jaguars in Mexico. In Arizona, the lonely Sombra is the last of his kind – at least, the last jaguar to be seen in the state since 2017 when he was spotted in the Chiricahua Mountains. 

The last known female jaguar in the U.S. was shot and killed in 1963, so Sombra’s chance of producing any offspring is highly unlikely. This problem is something the Center for Biological Diversity is tasking the federal government with solving through its petition. 

“Jaguars evolved in North America eons ago and lived here until people killed them off for their beautiful pelts and to eliminate a threat to livestock,” Michael J. Robinson, senior conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the petition. “Over 50 years since the jaguar was placed on the endangered species list, we should not be facing the realistic prospect that this sole jaguar in Arizona will be the last.”

Not only has the CBD petitioned for the reintroduction of jaguars to the region, but they have also asked that the federal government expand and protect the natural habitats for the wild felines including the area where Sombra lives. 

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The petition suggests that the Gila National Forest in New Mexico would be the perfect place to set up an experimental population. 

The CBD fears a lack of biological diversity stunts the once thriving animal and that not having proper, healthy mates will affect populations south of the U.S. as well. In Argentina, efforts to birth and release young jaguars have given conservationists hope. Meanwhile, in the U.S., groups like the CBD are becoming increasingly frustrated. 

“The bottom line is that the Endangered Species Act makes it a federal responsibility to recover endangered species,” Robinson said in the Guardian. “We are pointing out that they haven’t done so. They don’t have a plan to save the jaguar and it’s time to take a different approach.”

Several years ago, the CBD took part in saving the gray wolf population in the U.S. Much like the jaguars, gray wolves had become near extinct through government-sponsored programs that called for poisoning and fur trapping. Through captive-breeding programs – also government-sponsored – the gray wolf has made a massive comeback with almost 7,000 documented throughout the U.S.

Robinson thinks similar efforts could drastically increase the jaguar population. 

“This could be an amazing opportunity for us to restore a native species that was here for hundreds of thousands of years and deserves to come back,” Robinson said. 

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About the author: Dante Graves Dante is a movie and comic book junkie who loves a good explosion. His passion for politics and journalism led him here. Dante’s only aim is to be truthful and factual with his reporting.

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  • Walking in the wilds January 22, 2023, 3:37 pm

    Articles like these are extremely bias and do not offer the whole picture.
    As with the wolfs, Bald Eagles and such they claim a thriving population was here while in fact there never was because the southwest is outside of their natural habitat. Yes there has been Jaguars in the us and as far north as the south rim of the Grand Canyon; But they were extremely rare here because they were normally males just drifting through and outside their habitat. I do not recall in all my research seeing that there was ever a documented female in Arizona though. “Please research the females being here I am not 100% sure on that.”
    Now I am fine with jaguars here in my home state. And would really like to see them start thinning out the fearl donkeys! But again this idea is nothing but a utopian idea. It cracks me up when these ideals come to play. I alway say when here the reintroduction of something “I would love to see a trex running around as well!” Let face the reality the world has drastically changed and probably always will. Some things you just do not bring back and some things if you do try to bring them back they will wipe out other native wildlife.
    In my 47 years crawling around in Arizona I have watched over 80% of the springs I know of dry up. As well as lakes and streams “including our biggest natural lake in Arizona!” Yet they continue to build and think golf courses are needed! Those of you who want to help our wildlife please see organizations like the AZDSS, Az Deer association and wildlife for water. They help all wildlife by building water catchments. They really put their work in not just their hands out!
    Another thing we can do is get the stupid Fearl animals off a protected list so they can be managed. Until we start using sound Science and get away from voting and praying on ignorant feelings our wildlife will be in trouble!
    I believe that unless you live here and have a good idea of biology you should keep your ideals to yourselves! So many people talking out of their rears about the propaganda they hear online without taking a single minute to research what they say will help take away our freedoms and wildlife! It might sound like a good idea until you dig in and find the truths. Please think and research hard science before you talk or post. I would bet there will be less then 10% that would read this post to the end. In fact how will even read the whole article before they post. This is a real problem we have in our country.
    Thank you for reading my rant. Have a great day.

  • Jerry January 7, 2023, 11:53 am

    I truly wish the US F&L would take this seriously, but they won’t. And the more pressing problem, which most don’t understand is the massive difference between these predator species. Wolves, like all canines generally live and hunt in packs. The cats, especially the big cats with the exception of lions are solitary unless in mating mode. So it’s very hard to reintroduce a real population unless it’s by mating pairs and hope that there is enough edible, sustainable habitat for them to develop a viable population. The bigger issue is that about the time that happens, some yuppie Karen lets her ankle biter out in the yard and becomes a snack, then the alarm goes out that a man eater is on the prowl. I’ve seen them in the wild and will miss their beauty and majesty…The Florida Panther and Snow Leopards are already almost there…

  • Terry January 6, 2023, 11:57 am

    The wolves have come back but now they are overrunning other species. There needs to be a balance and if a species is on the endangered list, it is unlawful to keep the population in check.

  • Bob January 3, 2023, 8:49 am

    I hope they can do this.

  • Richard C Littleton January 2, 2023, 3:32 pm

    Great idea!!!!!!

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