Wildlife Weekly Wrap-Up

Your weekly roundup of wildlife news from across the country

Draft jaguar recovery plan released: Nearly two decades after the native jaguar was granted full protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finally released the draft recovery plan for the endangered jaguar this past Monday. While the draft plan rightly stresses protecting the Mexican population, which is essential to establishing breeding jaguars in the United States, the plan does not have a clear strategy for bringing back our own breeding population here in the U.S.. FWS should use the best available science to identify all suitable habitat for jaguar recovery in the U.S and seriously consider translocating jaguars here. That will give the big cats of the Southwest a real chance at recovery and beating the clock on extinction.

Wolves and sage-grouse in annual “Top 10” Endangered Species Report: The Endangered Species Coalition released its annual “Top 10” report today, which highlights the conservation status and actions needed to protect threatened and endangered plant and animal species around the world. This year’s report, Removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration, profiles the greater sage grouse and wolves. Defenders has worked for years to conserve and restore these iconic species. Conservation is a core American value, and regardless of the perceived political climate, it is our hope to work with folks to protect, recover and preserve our national wildlife heritage.

President Obama takes action to protect our oceans: Victory for wildlife! President Obama permanently banned new offshore drilling in parts of federal waters off the Atlantic Coast and in the Arctic Ocean. This will reduce the threats posed by offshore oil and gas development to imperiled and endangered species in these two regions, including North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales, sea turtles, belugas, polar bears and walruses! While bans like this are often limited in their length and scope, this provision allows for a permanent ban and may be difficult to repeal – great news for the many marine and coastal species struggling to survive habitat loss, pollution and the effects of climate change. In a quote, Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark (@jclarkprez) said, “President Obama’s decision finally acts on the bitter lessons we learned from the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters. This farsighted decision preserves the beauty, bounty and biodiversity of our nation’s federal waters for future generations.”

Baby ocelots bring hope! After a tough past couple of years, Texas ocelots have a reason to celebrate. It was reported this week that for the first time in 20 years, a den and ocelot kitten were discovered at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge! Using GPS to track one of the seven adult females of breeding age, researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the den with a three-week-old male ocelot inside. Measurements and photos of the kitten were taken while the mother was away to avoid disturbing the family and researchers will continue to monitor the kitten’s growth. Camera footage at the Yturria Ranch, private ranchlands in south Texas, also shows three female ocelots with kittens of their own. A total of seven ocelots were killed along highways in the Lone Star State within the last year, but footage from these camera traps has confirmed that there is hope that the ocelot population could make a comeback!