Our 1,000 Cats Project seeks to document native felines in the Sky Islands to better understand their binational habitat, celebrate their fascinating ecology, and raise public awareness about their conservation needs. Together we can help native cats thrive by building a deeper appreciation for them and by taking action in every community.
In the first year since the project launched in spring 2021, community scientists in the U.S. and Mexico documented 1,161 individual observations of cats! That’s well above our goal and includes bobcats, mountain lions, jaguars, and ocelots. This binational data was reported via our following programs:
- FotoFauna: 543 monthly volunteer checklists;
- Border Wildlife Study: 140 trail camera observations;
- iNaturalist: 487 observations including tracks and signs.
We shared this data with communities through our FotoFauna Dashboard to inspire people and show them exactly where cats are thriving today. This data was also cited in Sky Island Alliance advocacy efforts to stop border wall construction and the proposed I-11 interstate in Arizona, which would sever cat habitat.
If you have questions about this project, feel free to reach out to our Program Director Emily Burns. And read on to learn more about how you can get involved.
Easy Things You Can Do to Help
- Drive carefully near open spaces, especially at night, to avoid potential collisions with wild cats.
- Avoid using rodenticides at home. They poison rats and predators alike.
- Put out clean water in your yard consistently. This helps cats stay hydrated as they pass through.
- Start a native-plant garden that supports a variety of wildlife, including prey that cats depend on.
- Keep close watch of your pets/livestock to reduce the risk of conflicts with wild cats.
- Choose to reach for a camera, not a gun, if a wild cat does cross your path.
Get Involved: Help Us Find the Next 1,000 Cats
- Join our FotoFauna network. We’ll walk you through the steps of setting up a remote wildlife camera so you can record observations each month and then submit species checklists.
- Volunteer with our Border Wildlife Study. Join us in the field as a volunteer to learn how to check our wildlife cameras, collect data on habitat quality, track for wildlife along the border road, or help process the millions of photos collected every year at the Sky Island Alliance office.
- Learn how to track signs of wild cats, and then submit your observations via iNaturalist.
Learn More: Project Resources
- Webinar — Introduction to Tracking Large Cat Species in the Sky Islands
- Webinar — Bobcats in Tucson
- Webinar — Story of Mountains, Water, and a Jaguar in the Sky Islands
- Blog — Meet the Local Tucson Project that Studies Urban Bobcat Behavior
- Blog — Six Ways We Can Help Save the Wild Cats of the Sky Islands
- Blog — A Month of Good News for Large Cats in the Sky Islands
- Blog — Tips for Protecting Wild Cats #1: Say No to Using Rat Poison
- Blog — Tips for Protecting Wild Cats #2: Brake for Bobcats
- Blog — Tips for Protecting Wild Cats #3: Let’s Talk Domestic Cats
- Blog — Tips for Protecting Wild Cats #4: Making Your Yard Cat Friendly
We’re delighted to do this important work in partnership with Saguaro National Park, Coronado National Memorial, Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Bavispe, Universidad de la Sierra, Profauna, and Cuenca los Ojos. This project would also not be possible without generous funding from the Southwest Border Resource Protection Program.
Photo credits: Jaguar at Rancho El Aribabi in 2010 (c) Sky Island Alliance; bobcat by Anne Hutchinson; ocelot by jennicat/Flickr; mountain lion by JRorabaugh; desert road by David Salafia/Flickr; bobcat lapping water by MCrytzerFry; bobcat on FotoFauna camera by Cholla Nicoll; checking Border Wildlife Study cameras courtesy Bryon Lichtenhan; bobcat tracks courtesy Sky Island Alliance; mountain lion courtesy Coronado National Memorial.