New Mexico’s State Bird

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Are you looking at me?

He let me get pretty close (focal length on my lens tops out at 70 mm), which surprised me, but I’m not going to complain. I either saw him twice on two different points along the trail, or there are two of them there. Going back later(or tomorrow) to check.

NY Times on jaguars returning to the Southwest

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My sister sent me this article, which ran in the Times yesterday:

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.

And while no one knows exactly how many jaguars are here, or how long they hang around before sneaking back to their breeding grounds in Mexico, their presence has set off repercussions on both sides of the border.

At least 10 organizations are working to protect the jaguar in one or both countries. Conservationists are developing incentives to stop bounty hunters in Mexico from killing the big cats. Cameras have been set up near the border to monitor jaguar comings and goings and, inadvertently, the movements of “mules,” or drug runners.

Some environmentalists are pressing federal officials to declare parts of Arizona and New Mexico critical habitat for jaguars. But local ranchers and many jaguar experts say such a move is unnecessary because the animals show no signs of breeding here.

And then there is the fence. If the Border Patrol builds a 700-mile barrier in the region to deter illegal immigration, the natural corridors used by jaguars and other migratory wildlife will be cut off.

Read the whole thing for a look at the myriad issued surrounding the return of America’s largest cat.