Each and every year, trail cameras capture photos of seemingly out-of-place animals across the nation. Just a few months ago, a monkey was spotted on a camera in Georgia. The latest exotic creature to be caught well outside its natural habitat is a jaguar, which has allegedly been photographed in Arizona.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have received a photograph of a jaguar taken by a Fort Huachuca trail camera in the Huachuca Mountains. Fort Huachuca is a U.S. Army installation near Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona.
"Preliminary indications are that the cat is a male jaguar and, potentially, an individual not previously seen in Arizona," said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, regional director for the Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We are working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to determine if this sighting represents a new individual jaguar."
Though the historical range of the jaguar includes much of the southern United States, the big cats have scarcely been seen north of Mexico since the early 20th century. That said, they have, on occasion, made cameo appearances in Arizona and New Mexico.
"While this is exciting news, we are examining photographic evidence to determine if we're seeing a new cat here, or if this is an animal that has been seen in Arizona before," said Jim DeVos, assistant director of the department's Wildlife Management Division. "We look forward to partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and thoroughly vetting the evidence."