Why is Homeland Security Funding Research for a Big Cat?

Katie Pavlich
Posted: Nov 28, 2011 7:30 AM

There are a lot of things Homeland Security could be doing to secure the Southern border with Mexico, but apparently, they are focused on funding a research project centered around a single endangered Jaguar that might be living in the United States. The last time they saw it was in 2009. Most Jaguar natural habitat exists much further south in Mexico.

Starting next year, jaguars will be the target of an extensive network of remote cameras placed across Southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico.

In a three-year, $771,000 project that has been greeted warmly by environmentalists but warily by cattle growers, University of Arizona researchers will try to learn more about the status and presence of the endangered animal.

Fifteen years after the jaguar was listed as endangered in the U.S., this project will try to determine how often it roams from Mexico to the United States and back, said Melanie Culver, the project's principal investigator and a geneticist for the U.S. Geological Survey and the UA's School of Natural Resources.

Referring to the adult male jaguar photographed in Cochise County Saturday, Culver added that the project will try to learn, "Is this the only one?"

Funding is from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Up to five jaguars have been photographed in the region in the past 15 years. Researchers say the new camera work could help determine if this area actually has a resident jaguar population or if the jaguars that roam here are transient migrants into their range's northern fringe from a larger population in Mexico.


And the kicker?

Other possible results of the research include:

• Pinpointing movement corridors for jaguars across the mountainous borderlands region.

• Understanding more about how other wildlife relates to jaguars, and about the region's general biodiversity.

• Helping the federal government determine prime jaguar habitat, and prepare a federal recovery plan for the species.

Learning how much impact the U.S.-Mexican border fence, illegal immigrants, and vehicles and equipment used to pursue immigrants has on the animal.

With last week's sighting being the first confirmed jaguar presence in this country since the March 2009 death of the animal dubbed Macho B, UA researchers say they have no idea what their chances are of detecting more jaguars or again seeing the one just photographed.

Yes, Homeland Security is more concerned about how a border fence will affect a Jaguar of which UA researchers have "no idea what their chances are of detecting," whose habit is located many miles into Mexico, not in the United States, putting the national security of the United States at risk in the process. Next time Janet Napolitano tells us she doesn't have enough resources to secure the entire border, it's not that she doesn't have the resources, it's that she is spending them on extreme environmentalist projects courtesy of the taxpayer.

This "research" combined with last week's "don't let your turkey explode" video, it is clear where Homeland Security has its priorities...in all the wrong places.