Threats to Jaguars
Habitat loss and overhunting have these rare cats on the run and listed as threatened or endangered nearly everywhere they call home. The situation is most dire in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, where they’ve been virtually wiped out in the United States, and only 70-100 animals are thought to survive in Sonora, Mexico.
Farms, ranches, mines, roads, towns, residential subdivisions and border infrastructure are increasingly being built in areas important to jaguar survival, destroying jaguar habitat and blocking migration routes.
As humans continue to encroach on the jaguar’s home, these opportunistic eaters will occasionally prey on livestock, making them unpopular with ranchers. As a result, tolerance for these endangered cats is low, which can lead to additional killings.
Jaguars are also frequently killed by poachers, who prize them for their unique rosette-spotted coats. In 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added jaguars to the list of endangered species but didn’t think the small, elusive population warranted critical habitat protections or a recovery plan. In 2003, Defenders of Wildlife filed its first of several lawsuits against the FWS, urging officials to reopen the jaguar’s case and reconsider a recovery plan to help increase numbers in the region. Despite the recurring presence of jaguars in Arizona and plenty of available habitat, the George W. Bush administration took the position that jaguars were a foreign species and never agreed to a recovery plan or habitat protections. It was not until 2010 that the Obama administration finally agreed to draw up a recovery plan and to consider designating critical habitat.
Height: 25 - 30 inches at the shoulders; females are smaller
Length: 43 - 75 inches; females are smaller
Weight: 79 - 211 lbs, but individual males have been recorded up to 350 lbs
Lifespan: 12 years