Jaguars may finally get the protection they deserve in the American Southwest now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has agreed to create a recovery plan for the imperiled felines. Defenders of Wildlife won a lawsuit last March that required FWS to revisit its decision to forego a recovery plan.

The largest native North American cat, jaguars once ranged from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas all the way to Argentina. But driven out by hunting and habitat loss, they have rarely been sighted in the United States since the 1900s.

Stay Informed
Did you know? The jaguar is the third-largest living feline species, after the tiger and lion. Learn more fun facts—and hear a jaguar roar—on our jaguar fact sheet.

“A timely, scientific recovery plan is the essential first step on the long trek to a comeback for these great cats,” says Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife’s Southwest program director. “It’s a welcome change to see that under President Obama, science appears to be guiding FWS’s jaguar decision. It’s here, in the American Southwest, where jaguars have suffered some of their most significant range losses. And it’s certainly good news to see FWS fulfill its duty under the Endangered Species Act to help jaguars.”

Researchers say that jaguar habitat in the northern portion of the cat’s range is becoming increasingly important as more forest land in Central and South America is destroyed to make way for agriculture and housing.

“There is no reason why jaguars cannot have a population in the United States,” says Sargent. “They did for thousands of years and there’s plenty of room left for them to roam. This is a huge victory for the jaguar.”

Defenders at Work
Find out about Defenders’ work to create a jaguar preserve.

How You Can Help
Help jaguars and other wildlife by adopting a jaguar today at our Wildlife Adoption Center.

More Articles From This Issue

On the Ground

In Search of the White Whale

Defenders News Briefs

EPA Upholds Pesticide Ban—Lions Still Imperiled; North Carolina Bridge Goes Nowhere; Defenders Sues to Protect Water and Wildlife

Mexican Wolves Fading Fast

Mexican wolves are still running on empty in the American Southwest

Panthers' Road to Redemption

Last year saw a record-high 17 deaths

More Protections Needed for Manatees

Too many deaths in Florida last year

Wildlife: Spineless Wonder and More

Spineless Wonder © Roger Steene/Museum Victoria With its eight arms

Green Scene: Little Migrating Miracles

By Sara Shipley Hiles © Jim Brandenburg/Minden Pictures Like wildebeest

Defenders View: Earth Day at Middle Age: Time to Recommit

by Rodger Schlickeisen, President © Krista Schlyer When friends reach

Building Up Our Mussels

Freshwater mussels may not be cute, but we can’t afford

On a Wing and a Prairie

The drive to produce biofuels adds to the pressures on

Wolverines in a Warming World

These tough predators will battle grizzlies, but they're no match

Join Today

With engaging stories and spectacular photography, Defenders of Wildlife's magazine provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at what biologists and conservationists are doing to protect imperiled wild animals and plants.

Get the Magazine