July 10, 2018 at 5:36 am
This trail camera photo shows a jaguar in the Huachuca Mountains of Southern Arizona. The jaguar is thought to have died recently. | Courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department
One of the only jaguars to be caught on camera in Arizona in recent years is believed to have died, conservationists and federal officials said last month.
As the Associated Press and other outlets reported, the male jaguar, which was photographed in Southern Arizona's Huachuca Mountains in 2016 and 2017, had spot patterns that match a recent photo of a jaguar pelt. The Tucson-based Northern Jaguar Project acquired a copy of the photo, and several Arizona Game and Fish Department officials believe it is the same jaguar, the AP reported.
The group did not say where it got the photo and did not know where it was taken, the AP reported.
At one point, jaguars were fairly common in the southern United States, but hunting drove the species to the brink of extinction in the U.S. There are many more jaguars in Mexico, but even there, the big cat occupies only a fraction of its historical range, especially in the country's northern areas.
Another male jaguar, known as El Jefe, is thought to be living in the Santa Rita Mountains, southeast of Tucson. After the apparent death of the other jaguar, El Jefe could be the only jaguar still living north of the U.S.-Mexico border.