Rare ocelot photographed in southern Ariz.Posted: Updated:
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. -- Two hunters captured a photo of a rare ocelot in southern Arizona and officials are trying to determine if it's the same animal spotted in February.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the trail cam photo was snapped in the Huachuca Mountains at 9:55 p.m. on May 26.
The photo is being compared to others taken of an ocelot in the same mountain range on Feb. 9. Biologists will try to use comparisons between spots, known as rosettes, as they attempt to verify if they are the same animal.
Ocelots are small to medium-sized spotted cats with a long tail. They have been listed as endangered since 1982 and since then have only rarely been seen in Arizona.
"This photo either demonstrates the continued presence of the ocelot we photographed in February, or that of a new animal, either of which is good news for ocelot conservation," said department Nongame Game Branch Chief Eric Gardner.
Game and Fish obtained nearly 300 photos and 20 minutes of video of the ocelot sighted in February after it was treed by a man's dogs. Wildlife officers watched it for about an hour before it left the area.
An ocelot in Cochise County was photographed by the Sky Island Alliance in 2009 and one was found dead in Globe in 2010.
Ocelots are protected by the Endangered Species Act and should be left alone. If anyone encounters an animal believed to be an ocelot, it should be reported immediately to the Game and Fish Department.