Wildfires Raging near Rancho Pan Duro

Pan Duro fires, SonoraWe just returned from Rancho Pan Duro on the spine of the Sierra Madre. It is located south of Los Ojos, 50 miles or so southeast of Agua Prieta/Douglas. Mexico doesn't have fire suppression infrastructure in place as does the US. Also the forests are more heavily used so consequently there is not so much fuel loading. Nevertheless, monsoons bring thunderstorms and lightning; and much fire. Ruben's vaqueros went to the rancho, and with the air heavy with smoke they scraped a fireline to protect the main house, the vaqueros bunkhouse, and some outbuildings. Some hilltops were really decimated, and some of the thick manzanita overgrowth was obliterated, but the ranchhouse survived. The corral between some of the houses didn't fare so well. Good job, vaqueros. Muy valiente. Now there will be quite a lot of work to prevent erosion.


Pipeline to provide 80% of municipal water to Hermosillo

Pipeline for municipal water to Hermosillo - Independencia Pipeline under constructionThe Sonoran state government is building a controversial pipeline (Independencia pipeline) that will connect the state's largest reservoir (Presa Novillo) on the Rio Yaqui with the state's capitol city of Hermosillo. Construction is well under way with the first water to be expected around the end of 2012. Projected cost of the project is $323.3 million U.S. dollars, but completion date and cost estimates may not hold.

Pipeline for municipal water to Hermosillo

"La Ruta Bacanora"

Off the Wagon and On the Whiskey Trail in the Sonoran Hinterlands

by Michael Huckaby


Burros haul the piñas or cabezas from the monte.
Sahuaripa sits nestled against the foothills of the western flank of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It is at the north end of the valley of Tacupeto on the north flowing Rio Sahuaripa just before it enters the Rio Yaqui. This is cattle country. Some agriculture exist where farmers have taken advantage of the rivers leaving the sierras, but mostly it's cattle country. It's a tradition that goes back some 400 years, to when the Opata Indians were displaced by Spanish missionaries and miners. Cattle were introduced to feed the workers.

Vaqueros ride these hills in full length thick leather chaps to protect themselves in the thorn forest. Plants like vinorama, catclaw, and canyon hackberry vie for the opportunity to draw blood. The cattle get into some pretty difficult situations. To keep them safe is tough work with little pay, but it's a family tradition.

In the fall, there's a revival of another longstanding tradition. It starts when the first cool breezes signal the end of summer. The vaqueros sharpen their machetes and hatchets and harvest the fruits of the agave plants for the local moonshine called Bacanora. The production was legalized in 1992, but it's still made by small groups in remote locations using age-old, tried and true equipment. In fact the most modern contraptions at the vinata are the 55 gallon barrel and copper tubing.

Third photo of Huachuca Ocelot released

3rd image of the resident ocelot in the Huachuca MountainsA hunters trail camera has captured another image of an ocelot. Although the location hasn't been revealed to AZ Game and Fish by the hunter, spot comparison by Wild Sonora shows that it is the same individual that has been photographed in the Huachucas twice before in Feb. and May of 2011.

See the AZ Game and Fish Dept. article about this ocelot sighting.

Four of 5 wolves released in Mexico killed

All but 1 of the 5 Mexican Gray Wolves released in Sonora in October of 2011 have been poisoned to death by warfarin, which is commonly used by ranchers and others to kill mammals. The wolves were found dead in Nov. and Dec. of 2011. Although uncertain, there is a good likelyhood that this is a targeted killing of the wolves. It takes high levels of warfarin to kill large mammals. 

One of the wolves is alive and doing well. Mexican officials have said they will continue with the program although no details on further releases have been given.

Jaguar spotted in Cochise County Arizona

Jaguar in Arizona, Nov. 2011 (©Chasin Tail Guide Service)The newest confirmed jaguar sighting in Arizona comes from a mountain lion hunter who's dogs chased and treed the animal in Cochise County Arizona south of I-10. The hunter called AZ Game and Fish immediately. The jaguar took off and was again chased and surrounded by his dogs, which the hunter was eventually able to call off after a tense confrontation in which some of the dogs were slightly injured. The hunter's business, Chasin' Tail Guide Service, released only 2 photos of the incident to the public, but says he took many more including videos of the cat running away.

Mexican Grey Wolves released in Sonora

Young Mexican Grey Wolf released in Sonora (All rights reserved by SEMARNAT)Canis lupus baileyi, the Mexican gray wolf, is back in the Madrean Sky Islands of Mexico. The last wild Mexican gray wolves were captured from the Sierra Madre in 1980 in an attempt to preserve this southwestern sub-species, which once was common and roamed from Colorado to central Mexico and over much of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

On Oct. 11th, 2011 5 wolves (2 males and three females) were released in the Sierra San Luis in far northeast Sonora. See more photos from this release here. Participants include Semarnat, Conanp, Conafor, Naturalia, state governments, and academics.

12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl as Threatened or Endangered With Critical Habitat

Oct. 5th, 2011 finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium ridgwayi cactorum) does not warrant protection from the Endangered Species Act.

"We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) as threatened or endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Additionally, the petition requested that we recognize and list a western subspecies of the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium ridgwayi cactorum), or, alternatively, two potential distinct population segment (DPS) configurations. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that Glaucidium ridgwayi cactorum is not a valid taxon, and, therefore, not a listable entity under the Act. Additionally, using the currently accepted taxonomic classification of the pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum), we find that listing the pygmy-owl is not warranted at this time throughout all or a significant portion of its range, including the petitioned and other potential DPS configurations. However, we ask the public to submit to us at any time any new information concerning the taxonomy or status of the pygmy- owl, as well as any new information on the threats to the pygmy-owl or its habitat."

Mexican authorities to release Mexican wolves in Sonora

Mexican grey wolf (©Robin Silver)Sept. 12, 2011 - AZ Game and Fish Press Release

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been informed that Mexican authorities plan to release five Mexican wolves this month at an undisclosed ranch location in northeastern Sonora, Mexico.

While the department does not know the specific date or other details at this time, it has received indications that the wolves being released will be fitted with satellite tracking collars.

Game and Fish is currently considering what, if any, impacts this release might have on Arizona’s Mexican wolf conservation and stakeholders. The department will continue to monitor activities related to the planned release and inform constituents as information becomes available.

New photo of same Ocelot in Huachuca Mountains

Ocelot photo comparison from the Huachuca Mountains, AZToday a new photo from May 26th, 2011 of an Ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains was released by the AZ Game and Fish Dept. The photo was given to AZGFD by two hunters who had set up an automated trail camera. The press release (attached here) says AZGFD will show the photo to biologists to determine if it is the same individual photographed on Feb. 8 of 2011.

After looking the photos over briefly it is becomes apparent that the 2 seperate photo records are from the same individual. This is great news for people who care about the region's fauna. With a minimum of almost 4 months in the range, this ocelot seems to have taken up residence in the Huachuca Mountains.

Click on this image for larger version. Colored circles indicate duplicated patterns on the left foreleg of this cat showing that this is almost certainly the same individual. Wild Sonora is the first to compare photo and bring you this exciting info.


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