Australia’s Outback is one of the wildest and biologically diverse chunks of habitat left on the planet.
It is also a place that has tracts of ground that have felt no human footprints at least in the modern era.
American has its own outback.
It is the Trans-Pecos region of Texas-the far western region of the state.
The Trans-Peco is part of the Chihuauan Desert and features several small mountain ranges and has a county (Brewster) that is larger than the entire state of Connecticut.
It is home to some of the rarest and most elusive reptiles in North America and is home to the largest black bear population in Texas. Scattered bears also roam the eastern third of the state.
This region in my opinion is the most likely place to discover new wildlife in the United States and is also very like to be home to a small population of jaguars.
Jaguars have been proven to be crossing into New Mexico and Arizona frequently due to a concerted game camera study in both states. No such study exists in Texas.
Unlike Arizona and New Mexico most of Trans-Pecos Texas is privately owned. That means any large-scale study would have to be given the green light by landowners there. That could happen and two years ago I spoke with a research group that focuses on the great cats and they expressed interest in the topic but so far nothing is happening.
The truth is unless landowners themselves make reports almost no news gets out of the region.
An interesting report I am investigating is of a Mexican gray wolf sighted in a remote area Alpine.
The person who gave me the report was a fur trapper with more than 50 years experience in killing coyotes for cattle and sheep operations. In other words, he knows the difference between coyote and wolves.
When I interviewed him the animal he described sounded strikingly like a Mexican gray wolf and was in an area far away from any major human population.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the wild population of Mexican gray wolves in 2015 was 48 animals. It is not much a leap of faith to see one or more of these animals wandering into Texas.
In October 2000, a radio collared gray wolf from was shot and killed near Kirksville, MO nearly 600 miles away. A Mexican gray would not have to travel that far to end up near Alpine.
We will be forcing some effort on studies in this region and investigating the wildlife of America’s Outback.
Chester Moore, Jr.