WildEarth Guardians and the Mile High Law Office reached an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service in the end of September 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.
The jaguarundi are small, slender, cats with tails that can be up to two feet long. They are often called Otter-cats, because their short legs and small ears give them an otter-like appearance. The jaguarundi are vocal felids, with at least 13 distinct calls having been recorded, including a purr, whistle, scream, chatter, yap, and a bird-like chirp.
Jaguarundi live in the dense thorny mesquite, cacti, and cat claw thickets of southern Texas. These thickets provide an almost impenetrable shelter from their two main predators; dogs and humans. Potential jaguarundi habitat also occurs in southeastern Arizona, in the similar dense brush, shrubbery, and thorny forests. The jaguarundi is a very secretive species and hides very effectively within it’s thorny habitat. They are only slightly larger than an ordinary alley cat, a size that makes them difficult to identify in road-kill situations. As such, there has been some argument as to the necessity for and the usefulness of protections for this endangered felid as there have been approximately 20 unpublished sightings of the cat within the U.S. between 1975 and 1991, with only four of those sightings made by professional biologists.
The predominant threats facing the successful survival of this species are primarily human caused. The clearing of the Rio Grande Valley brush land thickets that provide the cat’s protective habitat is the largest threat to the safety of these endangered felids. The brush land thickets are being cleared for farming and vegetable production. Further, the border between Mexico and the U.S is now blocked in part by a border fence prohibiting the north and south movements of these species between their already dwindling habitats. Trans-boundary conservation is important for rare species, as previously de-void historical areas have often been re-colonized by protected populations from neighboring regions. This human-made impediment damages these species already slim chances at survival by preventing their travel between healthy habitats. The cats are not generally hunted for their pelts, but are notorious predators of poultry, as such the killing jaguarundi in defense of livestock is considered to have a major impact on the population.
While the species is listed as endangered there was no plan in place to facilitate their recovery. Now the Fish and Wildlife Service will be working towards bringing this charming species back from the brink of extinction, insuring the jaguarundi continue to stalk the brush lands of Southern Texas.
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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