Jaguar sighted in Southern Arizona

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department has confirmed the sighting of a jaguar in Arizona this weekend. A hunter reported seeing the jaguar southeast of Tucson, and was able to take some pictures for confirmation. Game and Fish collected hair samples and categorized the sighting as verifiable or highly probable after receiving the report Saturday.

Hunting dogs pursued the animal, which was ultimately categorized as a jaguar. It was found about 15 feet up in a tree, allowing the hunter to obtain photographs from a safe distance. Based on his pictures, biologists believe the jaguar is an adult male in good, healthy condition. They estimate it weighs about 200 lbs.

Experts hope to compare these photos to others taken throughout Arizona. Hunters have submitted verified photos of four jaguars recently, providing information that will help biologists understand their existence in our area. Jaguars received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, and as recently as 1997, when their existence in the U.S. was confirmed. It is now believed that jaguars live as far north as Southern Arizona, an extension of the population living in Sonora, Mexico.

Female jaguars breed year-round, and produce litters of up to four cubs. However, a 2006 report notes a lack of females and cubs in the U.S., suggesting physical and biological features may not allow individual, transient jaguars to survive or breed.

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