Obama, Jaguars and the EPA

Environmental Protection Agency Logo

Environmental Protection Agency Logo

It’s time for President Obama to step up and reverse the damage caused by the Bush Administration’s laissez faire approach to wildlife. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced their plans to designate habitat for endangered jaguars in the southwest. Habitat protection is the first step to species recovery; migratory and reintroduced jaguars stand a much better chance for survival if their land is protected. Although they were historically common in the southwest, jaguars have all but disappeared from the United States. Public interest in jaguars was sparked last March, when the first jaguar in decades was spotted in Arizona. Unfortunately, the jaguar died shortly after he was captured, presumably due to stress.

Despite this new development, the Obama administration isn’t doing a good job of protecting wildlife, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. With a 5% budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency, even the best management plans won’t be enforced enough to offer effective protection. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar plans to cut funding to endangered species programs, including listing, recovery, conservation and law enforcement. So even if the jaguars get their habitat designation, no one is going to be there to make sure the habitats are protected. Great plan, guys.

Colorado may never have to worry about jaguars, but we have our own problems with endangered animals. Wildlife advocacy group WildEarth Guardians has given the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a “D” for their decision not to protect prairie dogs from poisoning on private land. According to the Durango Herald, the Environmental Protection Agency received an “F” for approving extended use of poisons in 11 states last year. Ranchers claim the prairie dogs compete with cattle for food and damage the land with their burrows. However, the rodents are a key member of the ecosystem, acting as a food source for many predators as well as aerating and naturally fertilizing the soil.

Liz Grogan