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If Trump Builds That Wall, He'll Keep Out More Than Illegals. Second Jaguar Prowls Arizona

Second Jaguar Crosses into Southern Arizona from Mexico


December 27, 2016

Scientists confirm that the jaguar photographed in the Huachuca Mountains has not been seen previously in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of AZGFD)

PHOENIX - Taking advantage of the lack of fencing on the US Arizona border, a second Jaguar from Mexico has been confirmed to have wandered into Southern Arizona. It was perhaps inevitable, that the most powerful cat in the Americas would conflict with the most powerful man in the Americas, who has vowed to build a wall across the United States' southern border.

The Jaguar, which ranged through all of Southern California until 1860, was thought to have been extinct in the US by 1963. But in the last 20 years. occasional individuals have been seen in Southern New Mexico and Southern Arizona.

The occasional solitary male Jaguar apparently crosses in from a breeding population in Northern Mexico. One named El Jefe was documented to roam Arizona's Santa Rita mountains from 2011 to 2015.

Jaguars should never be confused with Mountain lions or cougars, which are smaller and more closely related to housecats. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, to whom it is related. It is the largest big cat in the Americas.

Scientists at the Arizona Game and Fish Department completed an independent analyses of trail cam photos of a jaguar in the Huachuca Mountains and confirmed that the animal has not been seen previously in Arizona. AZGFD and the US. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received the photographs earlier this month.

"Five scientists from the department independently examined the photos from the new sighting with those from previous jaguars in Arizona to compare spot patterns and concluded that this animal has not been sighted in previously in the state," said Jim deVos, assistant director for Wildlife Management at AZGFD in a news release.

"While recognizing the importance of finding a new jaguar in Arizona, it is also important to point out that this animal, like all other jaguars observed in Arizona in at least 50 years, is a solitary male and that the closest breeding population of this species is about 130 miles south of the international border," added deVos.

The other most recent sighting of a jaguar in Arizona, stated the release, was in the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona; however, that animal has not been documented in the state since September 2015. Prior to September 2015, this jaguar was photographed hundreds of times over a three-year period, said AZGFD.

"Jaguars are a unique component of this state's wildlife diversity and it is exciting to document a new visitor. However, in the absence of female jaguars and with the irregularity with which we document any jaguar presence in Arizona, this sighting in early December is important, but not an indicator of an establishing population in the state," said deVos.

The jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southeast of Tucson) and the bootheel of New Mexico, the cat has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century


The jaguar known as "El Jefe" (the boss) prowled Arizona's southern mountains from 2011 to 2015.

The jaguar is a near threatened species and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. While international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec.


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