The open-pit Rosemont mine would take a giant bite out of jaguar critical habitat and block one of the most important north-south wildlife corridors in the Southwest.
For Immediate Release
U.S. Forest Service Approves Mine on Public Lands, Threatens Recovery of Jaguars
TUCSON (June 7, 2017) – The U.S. Forest Service approved today Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s Rosemont Mine, a 5,431-acre, 3,000-foot-deep open-pit copper mine in critical jaguar habitat located within the Santa Rita Mountains and Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona.
Dr. Rob Peters, senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“The open-pit Rosemont mine would take a giant bite out of jaguar critical habitat and block one of the most important north-south wildlife corridors in the Southwest.
“With the ill-conceived border wall already threatening to prevent jaguars from reaching the U.S., the last thing Southwestern wildlife and landscapes need is a giant hole in the ground. In addition to the open pit itself, the mine’s lights, noise and roads would disturb an additional 228 square miles in and around critical jaguar habitat.
“The open-pit Rosemont mine would be smack in the middle of the home range of the world’s most beloved jaguar, El Jefe, and would undermine U.S. jaguar recovery. It’s outrageous that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lead agency on jaguar recovery, gave the Forest Service the support it needed to reach today’s decision.
“Public lands should never be for sale to the highest bidder; they are for all Americans. The Forest Service made a poor decision today for wildlife, their habitats and all those who enjoy the benefits of our public lands.”
The jaguar is native to parts of the Southwestern United States and has been fully protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1997. Endangered animals like jaguars and ocelots need open corridors, or pathways, to survive. There have been three jaguar sightings in Arizona over the last few years, most recently in March 2017.
Defenders of Wildlife is committed to recovering endangered jaguars in suitable habitat in the U.S. Ecologist Tony Povilitis concluded that there is enough suitable habitat in the U.S. to support up to 200 jaguars.
Defenders of Wildlife has been involved in jaguar recovery for over 20 years, protecting critical habitat for jaguars from damaging mining projects and helping jaguars coexist with ranchers. In response to Defenders’ 2008 joint lawsuit with other conservation organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized critical habitat designation in 2014 for 764,207 acres of habitat for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico, encompassing the area where drilling would occur for the Rosemont Mine.
In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service approved exploratory drilling for the proposed Sunnyside Mine in critical habitat for jaguars in the Patagonia Mountains. Defenders of Wildlife challenged that decision and won a reversal and drilling was prohibited.
In 2016, FWS signed a biological opinion that cleared the way for construction of the Rosemont open-pit copper mine within jaguar critical habitat in the Santa Rita Mountains. FWS’s justification in its biological opinion was that because there are jaguars in Mesoamerica and South America, the loss of El Jefe would not jeopardize the species.
For more on jaguar recovery in the U.S., please see Defenders of Wildlife’s report, Bringing El Tigre Home.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.