Environmental NGOs’ Efforts to Halt Rosemont Copper Project Threaten El Jefe

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity recently released a new video of El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar currently within the United States.  Although photos have been taken of El Jefe dozens of times since 2013, this is reported to be the first recorded video of the jaguar.  Reportedly taken by remote sensor cameras at an undisclosed location in the Santa Rita Mountains during the fall of 2015, this video shows an adult male jaguar, currently in prime condition.  The  sole purpose of this press release and the resulting media attention appears to be part of an on-going campaign to sway public opinion against the proposed Rosemont Copper project.

After studying their press release and examining this video, one can conclude that activities of Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity threaten El Jefe’s existence much more than those at proposed Rosemont Copper project.

The video shows a healthy jaguar roaming the Santa Rita Mountains at a time when Hudbay Minerals was conducting a major exploration drilling program at the Rosemont site.  This program included considerable human activity with seven drill rigs and related activity involving more than 100 workers at the site, 24 hours per day, for three months.  This activity had little or no impact on El Jefe.  To a trained eye, the terrain and vegetation suggest the location of the video was some distance from Rosemont.  El Jefe simply avoided all of the human activity at Rosemont (if he even noticed it) and carried on with his day to day existence as he had done for the last several years.

The nature of exploration and development activities at Rosemont is quite different than those  conducted by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity.  Proprietary knowledge of El Jefe’s location and routine gained from research programs at the University of Arizona are being compromised  by individuals now working for NGOs.  Like all enterprises, non-profit NGOs constantly struggle to raise the revenues required to remain in business.  To remain competitive successful non-profits not only have to focus their activities on glamorous issues (i.e. jaguar), but must also keep the issue in the public spotlight.  This is the only way to enlist new supporters and maximize revenues.

Over the last several years, they have actively sought out and doggedly pursued the beleaguered El Jefe.   Are Conservation CATalyst’s and the Center for Biological Diversity’s efforts to get photos and videos really designed to protect El Jefe?  Or are they a fund-raising tool designed to elicit financial support at the expense of this animal?

Have pressures of the competitive nature of their business compelled them to use female jaguar scat or Calvin Klein’s ‘Obsession for Men’ to lure El Jefe to the trails where remote cameras are hidden?   Unauthorized use of female scat was how Macho B was trapped in 2009.  And everyone knows what happen to him – death by stress.  The scent of dogs used to search for jaguar scat could also have a negative impact on the El Jefe’s activities and health.  Conservation CATalyst  and the Center for Biological Diversity have even offered to conduct public field trips to El Jefe’s territory, exposing him to more human contact.  Will this help or harass El Jefe?  Do the ends (blocking the Rosemont Copper project) justify the means (stressing the animal)?

All of these activities can be considered to be a ‘take’ under Section 3(18) of the Federal Endangered Species Act.    The term ‘take’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.  Is the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service aware of their activities?

Why are Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity harassing and pursuing El Jefe?  Don’t they realize they are promoting media attention that may bring unintended negative results to the life of this animal?  Are they really trying to protect him?  Or do their actions suggest otherwise?

The consequences of reckless actions by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity pose a serious threat to El Jefe’s life and well-being.  Will their actions help El Jefe live a long productive life in the wild or will they ultimately result in the death of another jaguar?

Disclaimer:  David F. Briggs is a resident of Pima County and a retired geologist, who has intermittently worked on the Rosemont project between 2006 and 2014.  The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Rosemont Copper.

Copyright © (2016) by David F. Briggs.  Reprint is permitted only if the credit of authorship is provided and linked back to the source.

About David F. Briggs 47 Articles
David F. Briggs is a retired geologist, whose work is feature by the Arizona Geological Survey. Briggs intermittently worked on the Rosemont project between 2006 and 2014. He has authored articles on Arizona’s mining history.


  1. I just saw another Jaguar up at La Encantada in the front parking lot. A 40 something Cougar was driving it.

    How lucky the jag came by to check on their camera. They say there is somebody for everyone so I doubt he’s a bachelor.

  2. We don’t need another mine when others in the area already operating at low capacity. China’s phony growth financed by their government building ghost cities across China has finally come home to roost. It will be a long time before that amount of copper is needed again. The Rosemont/Hudbay mine will never open.

    • The United States currently imports approximately 30% of the copper we consume every year. Even if we didn’t need the copper right now, we have to be prepared for the future. It currently takes 10 to 20 years to permit large mining projects like the one proposed at Rosemont. In order to meet the future demands, responsible mining companies must plan many years in advance to meet projected demands for the products we consume everyday.

  3. I love the insider gossip about who is in and who is out in Jaguarville. Who was your source? Betty Bobcat? She is sooo catty.

    I feel better already knowing that apologists for multinational mining companies are looking out after the best interests of wildlife. I was wrong about you guys.

    Dig baby dig.

  4. Attempts by environmental zealots to make El Jefe a tourist attraction by offering to conduct public field trips to his home territory certainly lessen his chances for survival.

  5. There is another purpose, beyond swaying public opinion against the Rosemont project, behind the releasing of this video. That purpose is to sway public opinion in support of the critical habitat designation for jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico, which, coincidentally, is currently being challenged in federal court in New Mexico where no naturally occurring female jaguar has never been recorded and where, therefore, no habitat “essential” or critical to the jaguar’s survival actually exists. Although a few individual female jaguars have been recorded in Arizona since 1900, at least some of them were likely animals of foreign origin released by humans for hunting purpose and not natural dispersers from northern Mexico. No, likely, naturally-occurring female jaguar has been recorded in Arizona since the 1940s. Thus, like New Mexico, Arizona does not provide habitat “essential” or critical to the jaguar’s existence either, despite the CBD’s and its allies’ vocal claims to the contrary. The photographs and video of this lone, male transient jaguar — even if they actually are from the Santa Rita Mountains — do not change the reality of this equation in the least, but instead, simply confirm two facts: that only lone, transient males sometimes range as far north as Arizona and New Mexico, and, that neither state rationally provides habitat “essential” or critical to the jaguar’s survival in the wild.

  6. Independent verification of the cat’s existence in So. AZ would be in order here. The Center for Biological Diversity has a strong bias already on the copper mine locale, and therefore should not be taken on its word.

  7. Great to see evidence of this beautiful critter in the Santa Ritas. Outfits trying to create “preserves (safe areas)” for these animals are 200 years and 200 million people too late (in the U.S.). Sorry folks—– we’ve fucked the planet by overpopulation.

    • Why so negstive? This outlier animal is doing okay where he lives despite the presence of recreationists, hikers, miners, and seemingly aggressive student and NGO biologists. Jaguars are doing relatively well in their main home ranges. This one will avoid what he doesn’t like as long as he isn’t harassed or loved to death.

    • I wouldn’t put it past the Center for Biological Diversity to use photos of jaguars in Mexico and claim they were taken in the Santa Rita Mountains.

      Remember the Chilton Ranch lawsuit, which showed the Center for Biological Diversity falsely claimed the Chilton Ranch and Cattle Company was guilty of mismanaging the Montana Allotment and used photos taken elsewhere as evidence to back up their claims.


      During the appeals process of this case, environmental extremists advocated for the Center for Biological Diversity’s right to lie, defame, misrepresent and practice a reckless disregard for the truth as long as their intentions were to advance their “environmental” agenda.

      In other words: The Ends Justify the Means.

  8. One of the definitions of the word “Catalyst” is “a person or thing that precipitates an event or a change.” The goal stated on Conservation Catalyst website with respect to the 39 wild species of cats found worldwide is to help fill these gaps [i.e. research and conservation projects] and ensure that every species is protected before it is too late.”

    With respect to jaguars, healthy populations are found from Mexico to South America. The single males that have shown made their home over the years in southeastern AZ and southeastern NM were not accepted by the other animals in their home range far to the south and ventured far from those interactions that would have guaranteed their genes would be passed down. Now in the interest of collecting as much information as possible about this particular animal, Conservation Catalyst is using s specially trained dog as well as intense human stalking and presence to install and monitor critter cameras. Sounds like it is well intentioned. How much tracking, active pursuit, stalking, and media attention can be undertaken before his exact location is identified, he is swarmed with attention, and he becomes stressed with negative health impacts?

    Posting high-quality images that give clues to the actual creek beds this animal inhabits may have unintended consequences — perhaps many more people in the area with their cameras and dogs looking for the opportunity to take their own photos? Perhaps their dogs aren’t so specially trained or controlled and will chase the animal causing him to be on the defense? How much interaction do these well-meaning individuals have with professional mammologists and biologists with the USFS and AZG&F? When this animal becomes so stressed that he starts to fail as did Macho B at the hands of rogue biologists, who will take responsibility?

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