US Fish & Wildlife: Jaguar El Jefe, Other Endangered Species in Santa Ritas Will Survive Despite Rosemont Copper Mine

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Look at that handsome boy.
  • Look at that handsome boy.

On Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave final biological approval to the proposed Rosemont copper mine, saying the only known jaguar in the United States, El Jefe—and other species living in the Santa Rita Mountains—will be able to coexist with the mine.

In the same opinion—which is a rewrite of a 2013 report—Fish and Wildlife acknowledges that the mine will significantly impact the habitat of many of the species in the area. Fish and Wildlife had to issue a revised biological opinion after a rare video of El Jefe roaming the mountains near Tucson surfaced earlier this year.

Fish and Wildlife says several methods will be adopted—such as hiring a biologist to monitor wildlife in the Santa Ritas and setting up a program to remove invasive species—to help mitigate any negative impacts Rosemont has on the species.

The Center for Biological Diversity was appalled by Fish and Wildlife's approval of the mine.
The Rosemont biological opinion has gone through multiple iterations. It was first released more than two years ago and then retracted. The conclusions regarding the jaguar in the final document released today remain largely the same as in the previous version. Documents obtained by the Center through the Freedom of Information Act showed that, in four different drafts of the previous document, agency scientists concluded that the mine would cause unacceptable harm to the jaguar, but their conclusions were reversed at higher levels of the agency.
“The agency charged with protecting America’s most vulnerable wildlife thinks it’s just fine for a foreign mining company to harm our only known jaguar,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “This outrageous decision, which was contradicted by the agency’s own scientists, will not withstand judicial scrutiny.”

“This is just the latest example of a very disturbing trend—politics continues to trump science when it comes to protecting America’s disappearing wildlife,” he added. “There is no rational justification for approving this incredibly destructive mine in this very sensitive place, especially when copper mines are closing down as the industry continues to free fall with an existing over-supply of copper.”

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States.Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside of Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first-ever publicly released video of the #jaguar, recently named 'El Jefe' by Tucson students, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation. Learn more here: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/jaguar-02-03-2016.html

Posted by Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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