Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jaguars in the U.S.

Sharing a great article from the L.A. Times ...

Always fascinated by stories about big cats in the U.S. there are many more than people think - Ocelots, Margays, and Jaguars along with the more common Mountain Lions, Canadian Lynx and Bobcats.  I also have terrible luck with them - in 25 years in the US I have seen precisely one Bobcat (Florida) and one Canadian Lynx (Alaska).  Cats therefore hold a powerful mystery for me and I'm quite intrigued when I see an article about them.

Jaguar photographed in Arizona (Credit Wikipedia I think)
So I saw this great L.A. Times Story today (which I wanted to share here) with video of a Jaguar in the mountains near Tucson.  We've known they were there for some time, but eh article says this is the only wild Jaguar living in the US (I doubt that's true).  Apparently the big spotted cats once ranged widely across the Southern and Southeastern US, but of course we pushed them out of most of their historical range at the point of a gun.  The cling on in Mexico, although the treatment of big carnivores was not better there than it was in the US and I'm amazed that a few manage to hang on.  The story in Arizona isn't always inspiring either - incompetent biologists (who 'accidentally' killed a Jaguar while trying to collar it), hostile landowners, etc. - but still there are a few of these magnificent creatures in our country, which means that a population survives South of the border, and that there is hope for the species in this part of its historical range.

Jaguar by John James Audubon - the background looks more SouthEastern than
SouthWestern and apparently these cats once called much of the US SouthEast
home too.
I know I'll never actually see one in the US, but somehow it feels great to know that these magnificent big cats still can find a place to live in our country.  It's also a tribute to the amazing resilience of the big cats that they can survive when we were able to wipe out the Mexican Wolves and Mexican Grizzlies that once shared the apex predator role with them in the South West.

I've had terrible luck with Jaguars in South and Central America, and have never seen one - once missing one by a heartbreaking 5 minutes in Belize - but one day, hopefully, I'll bump into one of these amazing cats.  Until then, it's enough to know that they're still around and even still hanging on in the Southwestern U.S.

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