Jaguar Reintroduction FAQs

A jaguar
Look, a kitty! Image by Ian Lindsay from Pixabay.

As you may recall, the Center for Biological Diversity recently petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reintroduce jaguars (Panthera onca) to the U.S.

They’ve now released a list of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) to accompany their petition.

Reintroducing jaguars would be a bold move. It’s never easy to reintroduce large predators, especially big cats, and there are unique challenges associated with “manually” bringing jaguars back to the U.S.

For one, it’s hard to know where we’ll get the jaguars from. As the FAQ list points out, the jaguar populations in northern Mexico may be declining, so it wouldn’t be smart to remove jaguars from those areas.

There are more jaguars further south, in the Amazon, but these cats have spent their whole lives in habitats that are very different from the U.S. Southwest. As such, I’m not sure that relocating “jungle jaguars” to the desert is a good idea.

The Center’s FAQ list addresses this and other issues. Concerning where to get jaguars for reintroduction, they suggest taking jaguars from multiple locations, to maximize genetic diversity. They also mention that there is at least one example of a successful jaguar reintroduction program that uses captive-raised jaguars.

The reintroduction FAQ list includes other important concerns, too. It touches on safety (for humans and jaguars), the importance of designating additional critical habitat for jaguars, why the Center is requesting jaguar reintroductions in New Mexico, and more.

I wouldn’t say that the Center answered all of my questions with this FAQ list, but I’m happy to see that they’ve thought through some of the most vital issues. I’m also glad that they’ve begun pushing for jaguar reintroductions. I’m not 100% convinced that this is a great idea, but the Center’s petition has put the spotlight back on U.S. jags.

We can now have more serious conversations about how to help jaguars recover in the U.S., and about the broader importance of ecological restoration in “developed” nations.

Further Reading:

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