(c) Jeffery Armstrong


Protecting Critical Habitat for Jaguars

Defenders played a key role in helping establish the Northern Jaguar Reserve in Sonora, Mexico, to protect the northernmost remaining jaguar population. The properties are owned by Naturalia, one of Mexico’s leading conservation organizations, and managed in cooperation with Northern Jaguar Project with technical and financial support from Defenders of Wildlife.

The Problem

Jaguars are being killed because of perceived conflicts with livestock, and overhunted for their fur and for trophies. Habitat loss is also a big problem for the northern population and the U.S.-Mexico border wall threatens to block jaguar migration routes.

How We’re Helping

The Northern Jaguar Reserve, now at over 55,000 acres, is the result of major binational cooperation to help save jaguars in their northern range. Initiated in 2003, the growing reserve protects key habitat for the last breeding population of northern jaguars—offering hope for their recovery in the United States.

Groundbreaking research being conducted on the reserve today will also help us better understand jaguar behavior and habitat requirements—information that’s helping experts pull together a stronger recovery plan.

Where We Are Today

For jaguars to make a comeback in the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must issue a robust recovery plan that supports the restoration of jaguars to the full array of ecological settings that they occupied before they were eradicated.  The draft recovery plan, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016, undervalues the importance of the jaguar’s northern range and fails to prescribe adequate conservation measures to help the jaguar recover its former U.S. territory.  Similarly, the 2013 critical habitat designation is limited to a small portion of the suitable habitat available in Arizona and New Mexico. 

Defenders is advocating that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopt more meaningful recovery criteria to help the jaguars recover in a greater portion of their range in the American Southwest. We also want critical habitat proposal to protect key habitats and migration corridors that would allow jaguars in Mexico—for example, from the reserve—to establish new territories in Arizona and New Mexico.

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