We are conducting surveys, monitoring, and research on cougars (puma, mountain lion) on the Ladder Ranch in south-central New Mexico. Here, cougars are of particular interest given their effects on state-endangered desert bighorn sheep and other valuable big game. These projects are also resources for training and education, most notably through the Cougar Field Workshop.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

From Friday to Monday of this week I was in the state of Sonora, Mexico, near the town of Nicori Chico (see map above) looking for jaguar tracks. In this diverse area, which includes Sinaloan thorn scrub as well as madrean oak woodland (see photo) an association of ranches has incorporated to protect one of the, if not THE, northern-most population of jaguar. They have agreed to stop the persecution of jaguar in the hopes that they can recover the financial losses in cattle depredation from researchers, ecotourists, and educational programs. (Check out David Quammen's "Monster of God" for a good introduction to the difficulties many people face living in close proximity to large carnivores.) I was scouting this area for its potential as a future research location as well as a unique area to bring Furman students for a field course. Unfortunately, rain prevented us from finding any tracks; but, local vaqueros told us that jaguar tracks had been seen recently. A recent camera survey of this area revealed 5 individual jaguar.


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