Saturday, March 28, 2020

Where the deer and the antelope and large spotted cats play

The past few days I’ve been camped in a wildlife refuge. Seeking refuge myself. I’m not wild, but I’m not exactly domesticated, either. 

So far I’ve seen jack rabbits, deer and coyotes. Also a variety of small birds (which, sorry, all look the same to me). There are pronghorns here, and javelinas, but I’ve seen only their tracks and scat. The coyotes must be eating well because I encounter their scat everywhere, particularly on the roads.

Probably a pronghorn track

According to a flyer I picked up at an information kiosk, there’s also a possibility of seeing jaguars. That’s surprising. I always thought of them as jungle animals, but the flyer says:

Throughout the past 100 years, jaguars have been consistently documented in the borderlands of Arizona and New Mexico. To develop a sound plan for protecting and conserving jaguars in the United States, the Jaguar Conservation Team needs more information about jaguars in the borderlands—information you can help supply. 
Jaguars are shy and elusive and generally travel at night. They are at home in a variety of habitats, from high spruce-fir forests of the mountainous “sky islands” to the lowland thorn scrub deserts. Their habitat preferences in the United States are not well documented and may be determined as much by the availability of food and water as by habitat type. 
1. If you see a jaguar or signs of jaguar activity: 
2. Note the exact location. Be as specific as possible. 
3. Note coloration, size, posture and behavior of the animal. 
4. Look for tracks, scat, hair and other signs. Make a tracing of a track, if you can do so without destroying it. Collect hair and scat samples for analysis by wildlife officials. 
Report the sighting immediately to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, 602-789-3573 or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, 505-522-9796.


  1. Wow, I knew they were in Mexico, never thought they roamed into the states, wonder if they crossbreed with pumas? Thanks Al, learned Something new today.

    1. From my research, it looks like jaguars are larger, bulkier than cheetahs -- about 200lbs versus 140lbs. The flyer says: Jaguars are muscular cats with relatively short, powerful limbs and deep-chested bodies. And a drawing shows that their paws are larger than pumas/cougars/mountain lions.

    2. 200 pounds is huge, mountain lions rarely exceed 120. The NFS estimates 6000 in CA, 8000 in Nevada, I've only seen 1, although seen plenty of tracks in camp the following day especially in remote Nevada. They are reclusive stealthy and camouflaged well.

  2. I’ve finally figured out that my troubles commenting and replying have been because of Safari. With Chrome it was easy...who knew?!? What a gorgeous animal! The closest I ever got to a big cat was out in The Ojito Wilderness...I stepped over a huge paw print, then did a double take. The hair on my neck stood up and I had the feeling a cougar had just passed by. Good to know they’re out there! Stay well!