Hunter takes picture; wildlife officials confirm sighting
By Summit Voice
For the first time since 2009, an endangered jaguar has been found roaming the wilds of southern Arizona. The jaguar was photographed by a hunter last weekend. Subsequently, Arizona Game and Fish biologists confirmed the sighting and identified the cat as healthy male, weighing about 200 pounds.
“It’s heartening to see that at least one jaguar is back in southern Arizona,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Jaguars are an integral part of the mountains, deserts and forests of the Southwest where they have lived for many thousands of years. They are stunning animals that fascinate the imagination and help maintain the health of their prey and habitat.”
The jaguar sighting came afer the cat was treed by a hunter’s hounds over the weekend. The hunter is reported to have retrieved his dogs and gave the jaguar space to escape.
The last known jaguar in Arizona, named “Macho B,” died after being illegally trapped by a contractor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Macho B roamed Arizona from 1996 to 2009, but was never known to have mated.
The jaguar is the largest cat native to the western hemisphere, and the third largest globally, after tigers and lions. Jaguars are known to have roamed the southern U.S. from California to Louisiana. The last female jaguar in the U.S. was killed in 1963 in east-central Arizona, and no jaguar reproduction has been documented in the U.S. since then.
“Jaguars live and breed south of the border in Mexico and have repeatedly recolonized habitat in the southwestern United States,” said Robinson. “If we give them a chance and keep their movement corridors unobstructed, it is only a matter of time before we will have breeding animals in the U.S.”
Advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity resulted in jaguars getting on the endangered species list in the U.S. in 1997, after decades of delay, and in garnering a court order requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a jaguar recovery plan and designate critical habitat where the jaguar’s recovery will be prioritized. A draft recovery plan and draft critical habitat rule are both expected next year.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County news Tagged: | Arizona, Arizona Game & Fish Department, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, Jaguar