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Feds Agree to Issue Jaguarundi Recovery Plan
Houston, TX Sept. 22. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and WildEarth Guardians reached an agreement this week that will map out a plan to recover the jaguarundi. The agreement requires the Service to issue a draft recovery plan for the cat in its Texas range by December 2012 and a final plan by December 2013. The Service will decide within the next nine months whether to also undertake a plan for the Arizona portion of this wild cat’s range.
“It’s time to give the jaguarundi a leg up. A recovery plan will help prevent the loss of this unique and fascinating feline from the U.S.,” stated Nicole Rosmarino, Wildlife Program Director of WildEarth Guardians. “Border cats are facing increasing threats and need all the safeguards they can get.”
The jaguarundi has been listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered since 1976. Yet the Service has never provided this cat with its own recovery plan. Service policy is to issue a recovery plan within 2.5 years of listing a species. Given the long delay in a plan to recover the jaguarundi, Guardians took the Service to court in June 2009 in Houston, Texas. This week’s agreement settled that lawsuit.
A recovery plan is badly needed for this small, long-tailed cat that is slightly larger than a domestic cat and resembles a weasel. Threats to its U.S./Mexico border range include conversion of its native thornscrub habitat by development and agriculture, as well as border walls, lighting, and vehicular activity.
The agreement comes while the Service is revising the recovery plan for the ocelot, which shares habitat with the jaguarundi in both Texas and Arizona. In the Texas portion of their range, both cats depend on thornscrub habitat, which the Service estimates has declined by over 95 percent. Scientists consider both cats to be stranded on small islands of suitable areas in a terrestrial sea of destroyed habitat.
In its lawsuit, Guardians was represented by Misty Ewegen, Esq. of Mile High Law Office, and Peter Thompson and Steven S. Reilley of Thompson & Reilley, P.C. of Houston, Texas.
WildEarth Guardians is a west-wide conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring wildlife, wild rivers and wild places. Guardians is also pursuing critical habitat protection for the jaguarundi and ocelot. The group filed formal requests for critical habitat for both felines with the Service during Guardians’ “BioBlitz,” a series of actions taken to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. During this year, through the United Nations, “The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.”