If the cougars don’t get you

Then the jaguars will . . .

New York Times article so registration required. Here’s the lede:

Using the same clandestine routes as drug smugglers, male jaguars are crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Four of the elusive cats have been photographed in the last decade — one as recently as last February — in the formidable, rugged mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

Actually, no need to panic. It’s believed these are transient individuals; no breeding females are thought to be coming so far north. And all may end pretty soon:

Of course, if the Border Patrol built an effective barrier in the mountains where jaguars cross into the United States, “it’d be all over,” said Jon Schwedler of the Northern Jaguar Project. “You could kiss the jaguar goodbye.”

In any case, those of us in the Northeast won’t probably ever find a jaguar in our backyards, but moutain lions are another story.

The number of sightings in [New York State] during the last few decades has exploded with no sign of abatement: 625 since 1983. In the Adirondacks alone, there were 89 sightings from 1990 to 2000. This mirrors the situation in adjoining states. The Eastern Cougar Network has come into being to keep track of the deluge of facts, opinions and anecdotes related to cougar sightings.

Many people, such as naturalist Peter O’Shea near Star Lake, are certain that several cougars have been prowling around the Adirondacks in recent years. O’Shea believes a remnant breeding population has persisted, quietly, throughout the 20th century even though biologists maintain they’re extinct in New York.

O’Shea cites the staggering number of sightings over the years, often by veteran trappers and knowledgeable observers such as state forest rangers and conservation officers. He also says he has seen cougar tracks six times over the past 25 years—the last time four years ago in the Five Ponds Wilderness. “They’re here,” he says. “They’ve always been here. I think there’s a wide-ranging population, from a dozen to two dozen, in the Adirondacks and surrounding terrain.”

Here’s a link to the Eastern Cougar Network.

(And thanks, Dad, for sending the link to the Adirondack Explorer piece.)

[tags] mountain lion, cougar, jaguar [/tags]

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