Wildlife Groups Want No Border Wall to Save Species That Doesn't Live in Southwest

That's the Bill Nye kind of science.

A federal government agency, along with wildlife conservation groups, is trying to stop construction plans for the border wall along Arizona and New Mexico, claiming it’s to protect an endangered species. But as it turns out, the species doesn’t even live in the area, a government watchdog group has learned:

Judicial Watch obtained records from Arizona’s Game and Fish Department, local governments and one of the biologists fighting the effort to designate the area a “critical habitat” for jaguars. It’s been a years-long battle that started in 2012 when the Obama administration relaxed ESA requirements to make designation of critical habitat easer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This includes lowering scientific standards and essentially caving in to leftist groups. The result, according to biologist and attorney Dennis Parker, is more restrictions on private property, grazing, mineral exploration and development not to mention national security. Furthermore, no scientifically verifiable record of jaguar breeding exists in the area and only lone, transient male jaguars are occasionally and peripherally occurrent, Parker said. In a document addressed to USFWS, Arizona’s Game and Fish Department states that “habitat essential to the conservation of the jaguar does not exist in either Arizona or New Mexico under any scientifically credible definition of that term.”

This has been confirmed by a big cat expert, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, who says the southwestern United States provides barely 1% of habitat for jaguars and poses no threat to the species if access was cut off because of a wall. He said the meddling is “little more than smoke and mirrors” to justify “defining critical habitat in the United States for a species which simply does not live in the United States and has not resided there as a population for at least half a century.”

The bogus science behind the USFWS’s “jaguar recovery plan” could cost taxpayers over $600 million over the next 50 years, not to mention the risk of national security by leaving gaping holes in the fence.

Here’s more from Judicial Watch’s investigation:

In a recent document to USFWS a coalition of counties and cities in Arizona and New Mexico as well as the Pima Natural Conservation District, remind the federal agency about the faulty science behind the proposed jaguar recovery plan. The group refers to it as the “radical departure from sound science, policy, Endangered Species Act interpretation and the clear and present danger to national and citizen security.” In this case, the ESA is being used to further a political agenda, Parker insists, adding that the supposed need for unimpeded trans-border corridors is based on opinion and value-laden beliefs rather than scientific information as the ESA actually requires. “All this junk science will become enshrined as science for the jaguar,” Parker said, adding that if USFWS adapts the jaguar recovery play as a policy it will affect everything from interstate highway travel to border security.

USFWS already determined years ago that no jurisdiction in the United States contains the features essential for the conservation of jaguars that required special management considerations and protection from the agency. “Because there are no areas or features essential to the conservation of the jaguar in the United States that meet the definition of critical habitat, designation of critical habitat for the jaguar is not beneficial,” the agency stated in a 2006 Federal Register notice. Nothing has changed to make that assessment any less factual, biologists interviewed by Judicial Watch affirm. They assure that land essential to the species is located south of the International Border between the United States and Mexico.

Photo credit: Jason Farrar via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND