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In 1997 the Mexican federal government implemented a system of wildlife use and conservation units, UMAs (Unidad de Manejo para la Conservacion de Vida Silvestre) as a national strategy to promote wildlife management, biodiversity conservation, and rural development in Mexico. Approximately half of the land in Sonora is owned by ejidos, collectives of local community members whose livelihoods are closely tied to the land they manage. It is argued that UMAs result in overgrazing, introduction of exotic species therefore cattle and wildlife loose to poor management. But due to the diligence and foresight of private landowners; in Sonora, UMAs allow ranchers to derive direct economic benefits from wildlife once a science-based, credible, and practical management plan is agreed upon and put into action. For many landowners, income derived from wildlife hunting of whitetail deer is a considerable economic boost to traditional cattle operations.

“In 2001 eight landowners agreed to cooperate in seeking solutions to mitigate jaguar predation on livestock. The participating landowners agreed to cooperatively manage natural resources in a sustainable manner by encompassing all of their 11 ranches in a single UMA. They also agreed to focus on wildlife conservation as an opportunity for an alternative source of income and to consider the jaguar an umbrella species. The landowners named their organization the Association for Jaguar Conservation in the High Sierra of Sonora (Asociacion para la Conservacion del Jaguar en la Sierra Alta de Sonora). It was formally established in 2003 and is composed of a president, treasurer, and voting members. Since initiation of the organization, members were made aware that they would be in control of the decision-making process in all matters relating to wildlife enterprises.” (Rosas’ O. & Valdez R.) Conservation Biology: Jaguar conservation in Northeastern Sonora: Volume **, No**, 2010 pg 3. Rosas and Valdez article The Role of Landowners in Jaguar Conservation in Sonora, Mexico, 2010 Society for Conservation Biology is groundbreaking credibility for landowners of UMA Sonora, who allow exclusive Coues white-tailed deer hunts and agree to conserve jaguars and jaguar habitat. While the US outfitter donates funds for conservation, UMA hunt proceeds are donated back to the participating ranchers for providing habitat. Economic incentives for stakeholders (ranchers) are crucial to develop tolerance for wildlife. Cattle is by-and-large a multi-generational family business as it is for Jesus Moreno Martinez, the head of UMA Sonora. 

Considerable financial importance is placed on the production of bacanora, an agave-derived liquor that is made in Sonora and has colonial origins, is a financial component of UMA Sonora that have supportable native or cultivated flora. The distillation of Bacanora was legalized in 1992. Since 2000, it has been issued with an origin denomination bill by the government of Mexico so that only mescal produced by the agave variety grown in specific municipalities (one being Nacori Chico) of Sonora can legally be called Bacanora. In December of 2010, Sonora Governor, Guillermo Padres Elias attended a convocation of bacanora producers and with 5 million agaves under cultivation, this first bacanora congress encouraged the production of quality bacanora.

The UMA PCJSAS, thru Jesus, hosted a dozen North American professionals from the United States and Mexico for a fact-finding, fund-raising visit in October 2010 on his ranches in the Rio Aros Basin. On the table, with food and festival, was discussion of research and development for low-impact ecotourism, business ecosystems, cattle reproductive schedules, and jaguar conservation issues. He included a well-attended meeting in the municipality of Granados of local stakeholders and lecturers from government and NGO jaguar conservation entities and cattlemen organizations.

As written in Team Sonora’s Jaguar Project proposal with the collaboration of Jesus Moreno Martinez, et al., “In 2003 the Cooperative UMA Jaguar Conservation Program of the High Sierra of Sonora (Programa de Conservacion del Jaguar en la Sierra Alta Sonora) was expanded to include jaguar conservation and it prides itself on jaguar “friendly” beef." The UMA Sonora offers its land and labor to construct a research facility, staging-pens for prey translocations, accommodations for science and education programs, a full time biological technician, and hours of support staff from vaqueros to cooks. Senor Moreno Martinez is an incorporator for the newly recognized Mexico nonprofit Conservacion y Comunidad S.A.S.A.C.
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