While few animals have been completely exterminated from north America in the last 300 years there are a few on the brink.
One such animal is the Jaguar.
The last known Jaguar roams the Rocky lands of Southern Arizona and is called Sombra. The last known female was shot 60 years ago this year. Conservationists are calling for Jaguars to be reintroduced into the Gila national forest, a 3 million acre wilderness in New Mexico, along with protection for millions more acres which Sombra currently roams.
Having initially evolved in north America, if something is not done soon, the American Jaguar will be locally extinct ( indeed, this may have happened a few years ago, was it not for the population in Mexico, which is close enough to migrate north. However, even this population is small and therefore not particularly healthy from a genetic point of view.
The petition argues, that as the jaguar (among other fauna) are only threatened by extinction, because of past extermination programs (running in the 1960s) funded by the US government, there is a legal imperative to save these species.
The Endangered species act requires the government to act and it has so far failed to do so. However there is also a great deal of opposition from New Mexico groups, who talk about recovering this population as being tantamount to a death sentence for their community. Of course this is not borne out by science, several studies have been looked at it, and found that a recovered jaguar population would have little to no impact on livestock populations.
The other big point, is that a return of the Jaguar could allow a thriving ecotourism industry to spring up, which far from killing the community, could save these communities.