Jaguars are a type of large cat that have pretty much dwindled to near extinction in the United States’ wilderness. Habitat loss and overhunting have each played a big role in their disappearance, and to see one anywhere in the wild is just unheard of.
On the other hand, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is reporting that one of the state’s many trail cameras have snapped a photo of one in its natural habitat. The camera was located in Fort Huachuca of the Huachuca Mountains, just North of the Mexican border.
Image Credit: Arizona Game and Fish Department
“While this is exciting news, we are examining photographic evidence to determine if we’re seeing a new cat here, or if this is an animal that has been seen in Arizona before,” said Jim deVos, assistant director of the department’s Wildlife Management Division. “We look forward to partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and thoroughly vetting the evidence.”
According to the report, the photograph was taken on December 1st and experts believe it’s probably a male cat that hasn’t before been spotted in the state of Arizona before. This could be an offspring cat from those that have been spotted in the past.
“Preliminary indications are that the cat is a male jaguar and, potentially, an individual not previously seen in Arizona,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, regional director for the Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to determine if this sighting represents a new individual jaguar.”
Because these creatures are rarely seen in the wilderness of the United States anymore, you can bet animal conservationists are drooling put it somewhere where it can breed and increase its numbers. Of course, the likelihood of this happening are slim to none.
In the past, experts have tracked down jaguars with special traps designed not to harm them, and then attached GPS tracking devices to the creatures so their activity could be monitored. Since it's getting to hard to find these creatures today, doing this isn't so easy anymore.
Is this one of the last remaining jaguars in the United States’ wild today? It very well could be – but the real question here is whether or not it’s a completely new jaguar that we’ve never photographed before in the past. If it is, then that means they’re reproducing, and that’s great news for the species as a whole if they can keep it up.
It should be interesting to see what is found after search parties look around for the jaguar that appeared on camera. More importantly, maybe we can answer the question of whehter or not there are more jaguars than we think out there.
Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department