The Wilderness Society
She stands on the rock, looking out over the water hole, over the sandy wash--a mountain lion in an Arizona summer. Looking past her shoulder we see what she sees.
Then, a second mountain lion with the first. Captured on a remote camera: eighteen photos taken over two days in August--two mountain lions, a mother and her cub, frolicking together.
There are other photos from that camera: skunks (striped and hooded), jackrabbit, Gambel's quail, an owl, bobcat, deer, desert bighorn sheep, ringtail, even a flash flood rising and receding. It was a good summer out there.
The Wilderness Society uses remote cameras to help us document our wildlands. Where and when to place a camera can be a gamble. There's the location, hoping it functions and that the batteries last, hoping the wildlife moves in front of the camera at a good distance--not behind, not around, not too far, not too near, not too slowly--and triggers the shutter.
Learn more about Mike Quigley's desert field camera work on This American Land:
Beyond those is the hope that the land is still a functioning ecosystem, that we still share the desert with wonderful species, that we still have the opportunity to preserve the wild world.
That's a lot of hope strapped to a tree.
When we see the bad news stories, the threats to our public lands, the damage done, we might question. Is it worth it? Does it still matter? Can we make a difference?
For me, eighteen photos of two mountain lions say yes. The wildlife is out there, the land is still wild. We still have important work to do.