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Nueces River Jaguar – 1880s

Source: El Paso Herald – February 23, 1901, p. 9 & Biological Survey of Texas by Vernon Bailey

Texas Ranger and El Paso State Representative, Col. George Wythe Baylor wrote a column of harrowing wildlife stories for the El Paso Herald in 1901. One of these was an unflattering tale about Joseph Magoffin, the fourth mayor of El Paso, and his encounter with two jaguars on the Nueces River.

Magoffin was with a train going from San Antonio to El Paso and stopping to camp at Turkey Creek, or the Nueces river, concluded to go out and kill a mess of quail for supper; he had not gone far until he walked up within twenty-five yards of two immense jaguars or leopards.

The tone of the article suggests that it should probably be taken with a grain of salt, but I was intrigued by the location. Vernon Bailey in his 1905 “Biological Survey of Texas” reports a jaguar killed at the headwaters of the Nueces River in 1880.

Biological Survey of Texas - Nueces Jaguar
Biological Survey of Texas by Vernon Bailey

It’s hard to be certain if these stories are related or even true, but we can be pretty sure that there were jaguars in the area around the Nueces River–the habitat is perfect for the big cats. It’s no wonder there are so many exotic game ranches around there these days.

I’ve included the full article from the El Paso Herald below to spark your sense of adventure.

EL Paso Herald wildlife stories
Magoffin jaguar story part 1
MAgoffin jaguar story part 2
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