RANGE: North from Argentina to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, where a small population continues to live
STATUS: The jaguar is protected as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
THREATS: Habitat loss, federal predator control, and construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall
Revered as deities amongst the Mayan and Aztec peoples, jaguars inspire through their grace and power. These agile hunters once roamed from South America through the southern and central United States, but lost habitat and were killed off in the east in the 1700s. They were reduced through Spanish bounties and fur hunting in the southwestern United States, and the last animals were systematically hunted down by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 20th century, only to reappear sporadically due to migration from Mexico. After the jaguar was listed as endangered in the United States in 1997 in response to a Center campaign, we three times sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain a recovery plan and federally protected U.S. habitat. Finally, in early 2010, the Service announced it would grant the jaguar protected habitat in the United States as well as develop a recovery plan.