Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jaguar in the ‘hood!

The big news right now around here is that we have a jaguar in the ‘hood. After spending 20-plus years living in an area where bear sightings were big news, we think this is kind of a thrill. However, our neighbors, who use the threat of “el Tigre” to make their children behave, aren’t quite as positive about it as we are.

At 7AM on Sunday morning, our 11-year-old neighbor, Hector, was in our driveway. El Tigre had mauled their dog, Rex, and would we like to see him before he died. Or after. Whatever. Did we want to see what a jaguar could do to a dog? Our answer was – no surprise – NO.

We did, however, ask how they knew it was a jaguar which had injured their dog. The answer was, thanks to the rain arriving a few weeks before the rainy season, the mauler of the dog had left huge cat tracks in the mud. Apparently the families next door heard the fight in the rain around 3AM, ran outside making a lot of noise, and when they went to check on the dog, they found Rex, mortally wounded, with very large cat tracks around him.

Upon telling other area people about what happened, it turns out that about half a dozen families within a mile or two of here have lost dogs over the past couple of weeks. It’s an assumption, but it’s not unrealistic that some or all of these dogs have been taken or killed by a jaguar.

Today, we went to town to do some shopping. On the way home, two separate families in the area stopped us to see if we could contact the Zoo, knowing we have a good relationship with the Zoo due to us donating cage material. So, we emailed Sharon and told her what was going on around here.

Sharon almost immediately emailed us back, and told us that she had forwarded our email to the Forestry department, the Zoo department that handles jaguar cases, and Dr. Bart Harmsen, who works with Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, who is coordinating the entire Jaguar Corridor from the Southwestern US through Central America and into South America – recently documented in National Geographic. Sharon also told us that jaguars who take dogs are usually sick or elderly, and that the situation should be monitored – and that people should keep their dogs inside or otherwise contained.

Right now, Tom is out telling our neighbors that we received an almost immediate response from Sharon, and what that response was. We’re waiting to hear from other people in the area about jaguar sightings, which we will immediately report to Sharon. We hope the jaguar will either move on, or that the Zoo and the Forestry Department will team up to trap it before it does anything worse than kill a few dogs.

In the meantime, our dogs are, as usual sleeping in the house. Even Recona, who usually sleeps tied under the porch, has been elevated to “sleeping on the porch” status – which she is very quickly becoming accustomed to, and which is probably permanent whether we like it or not.

And we’ll keep all of you posted. This is big news around here!

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