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Spying on Nature

December 10, 2008
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Retired land surveyor Jack Childs and his wife write about how they found a new life in retirement chasing a mysterious big cat and collecting the proof needed to protect it.

Images from a series of clandestine cameras star in this fascinating primer on border wildlife
By TIM HULL email the Weekly
Ambushed on the Jaguar Trail: Hidden Cameras on the Mexican Border, by Jack L. and Anna Mary Childs. Rio Nuevo, $14.95.

A few years ago, I was sloshing through a pathless riparian canyon a few miles north of the border when I heard the unmistakable sound of a camera snapshot. I looked around a bit and discovered a not-well-hidden, motion-detecting camera hanging low on a tree.
I had heard about the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project and its hidden wilderness cameras, but its researchers--and everybody else involved over the past decade or so in the study and protection of southeastern Arizona's few remaining jaguars--necessarily refused to reveal where the cameras had been placed. It occurred to me that day that perhaps my pale right leg--and the hippie-style, trailer-park tattoo I'd had inked on it in my youth--had just become part of a peerless record of nature's hidden hours.
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