Jaguar Photographed In Southern Arizona

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Jaguar Photographed In Southern Arizona

Arizona Game & Fish Department News

2/7/02

     A young male jaguar has been photographed south of Tucson, according to Arizona Game and Fish Department officials. The photograph was taken by a surveillance camera that was monitoring potential jaguar travel corridors on the Arizona/Mexico border.

     In an effort to conserve the rare endangered species, the exact location at which the photograph was taken isn’t being released at this time. Surveillance cameras have been used in some locations since May of 1997.

  “This photograph is really exciting. It is great to know that jaguars are roaming our borderlands, at least occasionally. We will continue to monitor the area to see if the animal is a transient or attempting to establish a territory. Since we are unsure whether the animal is still in the area, there are no proposed changes for land or recreational use, ” said Bill Van Pelt, Arizona Game and Fish Department’s nongame mammals program manager.

     Van Pelt said a Jaguar Conservation Team (JAGCT) was formed in 1997 in cooperation with residents in southern Arizona/New Mexico to gather jaguar data and monitor potential travel corridors on the borderlands. The effort in the United States has also stimulated a parallel conservation effort in Mexico. All JAGCT members, along with federal and state wildlife managers, have been notified to be on the alert and to watch for jaguar.  

      As part of this cooperative effort, the Malapai Borderlands Group, founded in 1997, has established a fund to cover depredation expenses if a proven jaguar livestock kill is identified.

     Jaguars were placed on the federal endangered species list July 22, 1997 and illegal take of the species could result in state and federal fines of up to $100,000 fine and a year in prison.

      There have been 63 jaguar sightings in Arizona since 1900. The last Arizona photograph was taken in August 1996. The closest known population of jaguars is 135 miles south, deep in the Sierra Madre of Mexico

     Jaguars (Panthera onca), which are the third largest cat in the world, are secretive cats that are muscular with relatively short limbs and a deep-chested body. They are cinnamon-buff in color with many black spots that are often broken circles or rosettes. A black or melanistic phase can occur.

     Jaguars are the only cat species found in the Western Hemisphere to truly roar, like an African lion, tiger, or leopard. Historically, jaguars were found in virtually every habitat type known to Arizona and New Mexico.

     These habitats include everything from shrub-invaded desert grasslands to montane-conifer forest. In recent times, they have been most closely associated with evergreen-oak woodlands, extending northward from Mexico.

     Jaguars once ranged from southern Argentina, up along the coasts of Central America and Mexico, and into the southwestern United States as far north as the Grand Canyon. Today, this range is greatly reduced and fragmented.

     Throughout their entire range, jaguars are recognized and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In the United States and Mexico, they are considered an endangered species under each country’s Endangered Species Acts.

     In addition, an Arizona-New Mexico Conservation Agreement, involving participation by state and federal agencies, local governments, nongovernmental entities, such as the ranching community, houndsmen, and private citizens has been established to help conserve the species. The goals of this agreement include educating the public, identifying habitat and travel corridors for population maintenance, and the development of strong public-private partnerships using innovative and adaptive management to conserve the jaguar in Arizona and New Mexico.

     Recognizing the lack of information about jaguars, the team has been aggressive in collecting sound scientific data. In 1998, members from the working group traveled to Brazil to collect information on jaguar depredation on livestock and published a book on jaguar sign. Working group members are also monitoring remote-census cameras in mountain ranges recently occupied by jaguars. JAGCT is currently printing an informational brochure on jaguars.

     If you see a jaguar, it is extremely important to note several things:

·        Observe specifics of the area so managers can find the exact location.

·        Note the specific characteristics of the animal coloration, size, posture and behavior.

·        If possible, take a photograph or video of the jaguar and the area.

·        Collect any sign (scat, hair, track tracing) if possible, without destroying the integrity of the track.

Report the sighting immediately to Van Pelt at  (602) 789-3573.
 

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Jaguar captured on film in southern Arizona

Associated Press

Feb. 05, 2002


Associated Press

A jaguar, captured in this motion-activated camera photo by Arizona Game and Fish along the border in southern Arizona, gives new evidence that the animal visits or even lives in the area.


TUCSON - A jaguar was photographed by a motion-activated camera set out in southern Arizona to monitor potential jaguar corridors near the U.S.-Mexico border.


The photo shot in early December gave state game officials new evidence that jaguars, the biggest cats in the Western Hemisphere, visit the southern part of the state and may even live there.

"It is great to know that jaguars are roaming our borderlands, at least occasionally," said Brad Van Pelt of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "We will continue to monitor the area to see if the animal is a transient or attempting to establish a territory."

Jaguars were last documented in Arizona in 1996 in the Baboquivari Mountains west of Tucson and in the Peloncillo Mountains, along the New Mexico state line near San Simon, Ariz.

Biologists believe the two 1996 photos and the one shot in December captured three separate cats.

The game department isn't revealing the location of the latest sighting to protect the big cat, which is a young male weighing around 175 pounds. I

A team of biologists hopes more photos will help pinpoint the jaguar's location. Officials would like to capture one, attach a collar with a radio transmitter, then return it to the wild and monitor its movement.

Arizona is believed to be at the northern end of the jaguar's historic range, which once covered nearly all of Latin America.

The closest known population to Arizona now is 135 miles south of Tucson, deep in the Sierra Madre of Mexico, according to game officials.

Conservation groups that want to see the jaguar repopulate the American Southwest were delighted by the new photographic evidence.

"The fact that jaguars are still making it as individuals back to their old habitat means there's hope for eventual recovery," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity's Silver City, N.M., office.

Robinson said his group's first priority is to stabilize the remaining jaguar populations in Mexico - which are threatened by habitat loss - and to assess what land on both sides of the border is suitable for jaguars.

"We're not pushing reintroduction at this time," Robinson said, "but everything should be on the table."
 
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