Jaguar Photographed on Southern Border

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For the second time in history, a jaguar has been photographed in southern Arizona using a remote surveillance camera (see the picture at azgfd.com).

The surveillance camera used to monitor potential jaguar travel corridors on the Arizona-Mexico border took the photograph on Aug. 7. Such surveillance cameras have been used since May 1997. Wildlife officials say the location where the photograph was taken will not be released in an effort to protect the cat. The first Arizona jaguar photograph using a surveillance camera was taken in December 2001.

“This photograph is incredibly exciting,” says Arizona Game and Fish biologist Bill Van Pelt, who specializes in big cats. “Because of the patterns of spots on the animal, we believe it is the same jaguar photographed in December 2001. We will continue to monitor the area and try to determine if the animal has established a territory or is a transient.”

Arizonans can help biologists as they continue to study the presence of jaguars. If you see a jaguar, you should try to do several things:

· Observe nearby landmarks so biologists can find the location in which you saw the cat.

· Note characteristics of the animal’s coloration, size, posture and behavior.

· If possible, take a photograph or video of the jaguar and the area.

· Collect hair and scat samples for analysis. Make a tracing of the track if you can do so without destroying it.

· Report the sighting to Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists at (602) 789-3573.

More than 60 documented jaguar sightings have occurred in Arizona since 1900. The closest known population of jaguars is 135 miles south, in Mexico’s Sierra Madres.

Jaguars were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1997. Unlawfully killing a jaguar could result in state and federal fines of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison.

The Jaguar Conservation Team and Work Group, an organization of landowners, ranchers, citizen groups, scientists and state and federal agency representatives, was created in 1997 to guide jaguar conservation efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The group supports jaguar conservation through voluntary participation by public and private partners.

“This group has been instrumental in efforts to conserve the jaguar, which will ultimately assist in the recovery process,” says Sarah Rinkevich, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.