Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Legend Returns...

Sometimes no human agency need be involved in "Re- Wilding". The introduction of Yellowstone wolves only hastened a natural process-- wolves were already coming in from the north.

It has been almost ten years since Arizona rancher, hunting guide, and coservationist Warner Glenn cut a track in the Peloncillo Mountains of southern New Mexico, deep in the wild country that once sheltered Geronimo. The cat ran and ran; the hounds had him bayed up again and again, but he always ran before Glenn and his daughter Wendy could get up to them.

Finally (from his book Eyes of Fire) : "I was completely shocked to see a very large, absolutely beautiful jaguar crouched on top, watching the circling hounds below...I was stunned by the beauty of the scene. This was a first for me. I had been 60 years waiting to see this beautiful creature".

He took several photos before the cat ran. It bayed up in another canyon. Warner got up close, hoping for better pictures. "Within ten feet of me, the jaguar looked up, then crouched down with his eyes locked on me. When I realized what that look meant, I knew he was coming to get me!"

"He exploded out of that hole towards me, with fire in his eyes... Maple and Cheyenne met him head on as I jumped backwards. Right there, they saved me from having my lap full of biting, clawing jaguar".

All participants survived.

Warner and his wife Wendy are part of the Malpai Borderlands Group. You can see more jaguar photos and other good things on their Endangered Species link. Like all private grassroots conservation groups they can always use a dollar. Eyes of Fire was originally printed to provide a fund to compensate anyone who lost cattle to jaguars, and to protect habitat. If there is enough demand maybe they will print another edition-- or maybe they still have some in stock, for less than Amazon prices.

However, the saga continues, as more jaguars are seen all the time. Ken Lamberton writes in the LA Times that the jaguar is becoming a frequent if elusive visitor, even to the Southwest's suburbs.

" "What do I do about a leopard in my yard?"

"My mom is on the phone, and I'm not sure how to answer. She lives in the Catalina Mountain foothills north of Tucson where mountain lions can occasionally cause a stir. But a leopard?

"She tells me that it all began with the barking of her Maltese dog, and when she looked out the window, she saw a large cat moving along the inside wall of her courtyard. The cat, which measured nearly 5 feet long — with a tail of comparable length — leapt over the wall and disappeared. I told her to call Arizona Game and Fish.

"Tim Snow, a specialist with the department, arrived at her home a few minutes before I did, and although we searched, we couldn't locate any tracks in the dry ground. Tim told me that he gets a few reports like this every year from the Catalina foothills. What my mom had seen in her yard, identified from a lineup of various photographs, was a jaguar, the dappled cat, the world's third largest and the only one in the New World that roars".

Rumor says that only spotted ones are seen in the north, but some are black. So, legend says, was the last one in New Mexico, killed in 1905 by a ranch wife with a bucket of poisoned milk, in the deep snows of winter at 7000 feet of altitude, not far from where we live.


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