Jaguars Return to Southern Arizona
In Southern Arizona, the top predator is the mountain lion, but over the last 15 years, solitary male jaguars, typically one at any given time, have migrated from Northern Mexico into Southern Arizona and New Mexico. There is no reason this could not happen in far-West Texas.
I don’t know if it’s an old wives’ tale or not, but growing up my grandpa always told us a story about a deer lease they had. The landowner was a mohair goat farmer in Crockett county in West Texas. He had been losing a bunch of goats to a cat, so he hired a professional trapper to go after it. The story went, the trapper chased after the cat for two weeks, following his dogs the whole way, riding a donkey and living on the trail. The cat was traveling back and forth across the border with Mexico and the trapper was on his trail the whole time. Finally when he got him treed, he was staring face to face with a big male Jaguar. Now, my grandpa has been known to embellish a story or two, and I never saw it in person, but my grandpa claims he saw the Jaguar mounted in the office of the ranching operations. I don’t know the time frame of the story, probably back in the 60’s or 70’s, so there’s a possibility all this could be true, fun story nonetheless.
Thank you Justin. I think your grandfather was describing what he saw. Once a species disappears, we seem to find it unbelievable that the animal was ever present. I think this ignorance of historic wildlife populations explains why so many wildlife managers are hostile to any animal they have never seen before, even though that animal was once common. They think our empty ranges are in a natural state, and should be kept that way.
Jaguars were common, as were brown bear, black bear, and wolves. These species survive in the Sierra Madres, the vast and inaccessible mountains that extend from central to northern Mexico, just to our south.
And if you go back around 10,000 years to the time that humans became populous and wiped out so many species, we had giant bear, sabertooth cats, even a lion 1/3 bigger than its African cousin. In fact North America had the biggest, meanest and most numerous population of predators on the planet.
The reason pronghorn run 50+ miles per hour is because they evolved alongside this population of predators. Few people understand this, or realize that South Texas was full of pronghorn, which persisted around Cotula into the 1950’s.