Name Our Jaguar

Once native in the United States jaguars were extirpated by hunters encouraged by federal predator policies. In 1997 the jaguar was added to the Endangered Species Act but it wasn’t until 2014 that 764,207-acres were designated protected jaguar habitat (most of that here in southern Arizona).

The handsome male jaguar pictured below, weighing in at roughly 200 pounds, was first spotted in southern Arizona in 2011. Since then he’s been caught on film over 100 times by remote trail cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains, 30 miles south of Tucson. How do they know it’s the same animal? Just like snowflakes, the pattern of each jaguar is unique.

He is one of several jaguars that have been documented over the past 20 years in Arizona. So far all of them have been males. The last known female jaguar in the U.S. was killed by a hunter in the White Mountains of northern Arizona in 1963. Which means we may never have a breeding population here in the States.

It pleases me that they still roam free. Jaguars are magnificent; powerful and intelligent creatures. And as an apex predator their survival in an area means that the ecosystem is in decent shape.

The Center for Biological Diversity is running a contest to name this jaguar as part of a campaign to raise awareness of North America’s biggest cat. Head on over and cast your vote (plus you can look through his photo album).

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

Defense Class

I recently completed a free Rape Aggression Defense class taught by the Oro Valley Police Department. I am already careful to survey my surroundings and I try to avoid sketchy situations but I was interested to learn some defensive hands-on techniques.

There were 20 of us in attendance ranging in age from 15 to 65. I gained some powerful skills that I hope I never have to use. I really admired how some of the shy ladies came out swinging during our practice scenarios on the second day of class. It would be great to teach this to all women – especially during the high school or college years.

Thank you to the Oro Valley Police officers that taught our class and especially to the male officers that suited up to take our beatings!


My Landscaping Crew…

IMG_8593The Harris’ Antelope Squirrel gathers and plants seeds (note the chubby cheek).

IMG_8615The Round-tailed Ground Squirrel aerates my soil.

IMG_8664The Rock Squirrel creates berms and swales for rainwater harvesting.

IMG_8624The Verdin removes bugs from my plants.

IMG_8650These Gambel’s Quail remove bugs from my soil.

IMG_8708This Desert Cottontail trims groundcovers.

Shrub-climbing Desert Cottontail

This Desert Cottontail trims bushes (he’s an arborist).

IMG_8745And this Desert Cottontail is clearly the supervisor (specializing in siestas).

They don’t work during the middle of the day in the summer and I wish they wouldn’t trim things back so hard but their rates are really reasonable and they work year round, so I guess I can’t complain.

Bears in the Pool

Yeah, I know, the web has been buzzing with this swimming bear family today. I enjoyed watching them frolic, they are so curious and have a lot of energy. I’m glad the pool owners’ shared their video (though to be honest, I highly recommend muting it so you don’t have to listen to the kids).

Towards the end it seems like Momma Bear just wants some time alone. With 5 cubs who can blame her?

Which brings me to the question – how in the world did she end up with 5 cubs?! Talk about exhausting – the average black bear (Ursus americanus) litter size is 2-3. I’d be swatting their furry bottoms too! *

Screen shot 2015-08-21 at 10.19.02 PM*Don’t stress, I don’t have kids so you don’t have to worry about me swatting anyone’s bottom.

Advice from Tigger

Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.

Sounds like excellent advice to me! Thank you A.A. Milne for sharing the wisdom of Pooh and friends.

Since I don’t have any Tigger photos I thought I’d share a picture of one of the bounciest critters that lives in the Sonoran Desert, a Harris’ Antelope Squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii). They run and they climb but they seem to prefer bouncing. I wish I had a shot of them in the act but this cheeky shot will have to do.

Sassy Squirrel

Harris’ Antelope Squirrel, June 2010, Tucson, AZ