David E. Brown Q&A

I’m very pleased to post the following Q&A with David E. Brown, who (with Carlos Lopez Gonzalez) literally wrote the book on Southwest jaguars. Their work, Borderland Jaguars/Tigres de la Frontera is required reading for anyone hoping to understand jaguars in the US and Northern Mexico. David has been a working biologist in the Southwest for over 40 years and he is a faculty member at Arizona State University (Go Devils!). I thank David very much for answering my questions. His responses are below in blue.

  1. How did you come to be interested in the jaguars of Arizona and New Mexico? I first became interested in Southwest jaguars when Bill McGee brought one in from the Patagonia Mountains. Who cannot become interested in jaguars on seeing such a specimen!
  2. Do you have any other jaguar research planned? No, I am not much interested in working on someone else’s agenda. I would like to get a better handle on the status of jaguars in the Sierra Bacatete, however.
  3. For people who have not read your book Borderland Jaguars/Tigres de la Frontera can you give us a brief synopsis of what you and Carlos Lopez Gonzalez found out about jaguars in Sonora? We documented the probable source of jaguars entering the U. S. between 1960 and 2004.
  4. How do you answer people who say the US never had a breeding population of jaguars? They may be correct. The data are somewhat ambiguous on this, and one could argue for both hypotheses. I honestly do not know the answer to this.
  5. Do you believe jaguars were present in the US (particularly AZ) during the time there were no sightings from the 60’s on ( i.e. 1965-1971, 1971-1986, 1986-1996)? Individual animals could very likely have slipped in during this time.
  6. Do you think that the jaguars seen in the past few years in Arizona and New Mexico are residents or transients from Mexico? My opinion is that these animals are males in search of females and a territory. An adequate prey base allows them to employ a “waiting” or patrolling strategy.
  7. What do you believe are the chances that wild jaguars will breed in the US? Very slim without the introduction of one or more wild females.
  8. What’s your opinion of the proposed border fence? The border issue is such that such a structure is becoming inevitable.
  9. What are your thoughts on the designation of critical habitat for jaguars in the US? Critical habitat designation without a breeding population is moot.
  10. What do you see as the future of jaguars in the US and what steps need to be taken to ensure that future? My personal opinion is that a population of jaguars might become established (re-established?) if one or more females were introduced. No agency or commission is going to do so, however, due to the possibility of tort claims. Waiting for a female to arrive on her own from 140 miles away strikes me as an extremely dubious proposition, although one favored by agency personnel. Hence, the future of jaguars in the U.S. will remain nonexistent or perilous at best.
  11. As a slight digression, do you foresee ocelots ever becoming more common in the Southwest US? Given ongoing climatic trends, I could well visualize as ocelots as becoming established in the Southwest at some future date. I don’t know if they would ever become common, however.
  12. Anything you’d like to add? Contemplating jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico is an enjoyable form of recreation, but don’t get your hopes up. The obstacles to a population becoming established are formidable.
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2 Responses to “David E. Brown Q&A”

  1. Wilbur Wildcat Says:

    >University (Go Devils!)
    ? go Wildcats !

    >Do you believe jaguars were present in the US (particularly AZ) during the time there >were no sightings from the 60’s on ( i.e. 1965-1971, 1971-1986, 1986-1996)? Individual >animals could very likely have slipped in during this time.

    There were sightings by persons ( hikers,.. ) during 1960, 70 and 80 years.
    Getting a picture to show someone is what is very difficult to do. ! nocturnal
    ever see a bat there everywhere …

  2. swjags Says:

    I doubt Dr Brown reads this blog very often so I’ll take a stab at this! It seems to me that jags have been present in AZ, even though they weren’t photographed alive until the 90’s (and subsequently). We’re dealing w/ a very cryptic, very widely dispersed animal. As Emil McCain says, “they just cover more ground than me!” Given the cat’s rarity and the possible legal ramifications of its existence I have no doubt they were seen over the years but only by a few people who didn’t make a press release.

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