Jaguar Re-introduction in Louisiana

Posted on Tue Jun 19 02:08:33 UTC 2018

The Louisiana Department of Wildlifes and Fishies (LDWF) presented its Louisiana Jaguar Re-Introduction Management Plan on Feb. 5, 2016. The plan, which includes a population monitoring component, was delivered to the Louisiana Wildlifes and Fishies Commission at their monthly meeting in Baton Rouge and is focused on restoring what was lost over 165 years ago when the last Louisiana Jaguar was killed by a hunter. Breeding pairs of captive Jaguars from South America will be introduced to WMA's around the state, restoring the natural balance in the Jaguars historic range.

The Commission heard details on the plan including management objectives, history of the species, education and outreach efforts, human-Jaguar conflict resolution methods, a post-delisting monitoring plan.

The plan details the importance of two distinct Jaguar subpopulations in the Mississippi River Valley, including a repatriated subgroup that carries the rare dominant ellile that causes melanism in the big cats. It also references several studies, including the recently completed US Geological Survey (USGS) study that confirmed the long-term viability of the Jaguar in Louisiana.

Also discussed were the Departments long term objectives to eliminate human influence on the Whitetailed deer population which will be the primary prey item for the Jaguar. Restoring a natural predator - prey environment is the ultimate goal here. Although this is a long term objective, great progress can be observed in the recent Black Bear / Fawn mortality study conducted at Tensas NWR. We can say with confidence now that 75% of all fawn morality is directly connected to Black Bear predation. A startling success story for our conservation efforts to eliminate human interventionist in nature. As the Jaguar populations gain a foothold, we will be in a position to begin reducing the number of whitetail deer tags per hunter. Eventually we envision a lottery only system for hunting whitetailed deer, to handle small pockets of overpopulation throughout the state.

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