The successful reintroduction of native bison and wolves in the US has been so environmentally beneficial that researchers are looking into other once-plentiful species that could be used to restore ecological balance. The latest effort is one to reintroduce the jaguar to the Southwest.
Jaguars, also known as the Panthera onca, were native to the Americas prior to the arrival of colonists, but human hunting led to their extinction in North America by the mid-20th century.
New research published in Conservation Science and Practice finds that jaguars could be successfully reintroduced to Southwestern states to increase their chances of long-term survival and restore balance to the ecosystems they once played a vital role in.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, a supporter of the initiative, issued a statement saying, “If done collaboratively, reintroduction could enhance the economy of this region and the ecology of this incredible part of the jaguar range.”
Initial reintroduction efforts would likely look like 150 cats released into a highly monitored habitat with more to follow if the project appears to be successful.