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Surveillance camera captures elusive jaguar



Surveillance camera captures elusive jaguar

TUCSON (AP) — A surveillance camera in a remote part of southern Arizona has captured a snapshot of a jaguar, an endangered and elusive cat.

Researchers believe that the picture, showing the cat's spotted tail and taken on Aug. 7, closely resembles photographs taken of a jaguar two years ago in a nearby canyon.

It's still unclear whether the jaguar is a transient from Mexico or has established a territory near the camera sites which are in remote locations at elevations of about 5,000 feet.

"That's the million-dollar question," said Sarah Rinkevich, an endangered-species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Although commonly associated with the tropics, jaguars once roamed across Arizona. An estimated 70 to 100 jaguars still live 120 miles southeast of Douglas, in Mexico's rugged Sierra Madre.

Biologists believe the cat recently caught on film is a young male weighing about 130 pounds. He probably wandered north in search of food or a mate and has been feeding on javelina and deer.

As part of an ongoing jaguar surveillance project, volunteers and government scientists have set out 14 automatic cameras that are triggered by motion and heat along wildlife corridors in southern Arizona.

The cameras — whose locations are kept secret to protect the jaguars from poachers — have also filmed bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coatimundi, opossum and foxes.

The camera sites also have scented "hair snares", but they have yet to snag a piece of fur from a passing cat.

The fur could be genetically analyzed to learn more about the cat's origin.

The most recent picture and the ones taken two years ago are from cameras that are about five miles apart.

Researchers plan to set up more cameras in the area.

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