The Main Stream

May 2, 2012 7:40 PM

Game and Fish investigating ocelot sighting

TUCSON - New pictures of an ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains are now being analyzed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to determine if it's the same one seen in the area twice before.

Ocelots are small to medium-sized spotted cats with a long tail. They have been listed as endangered since 1982 under the federal Endangered Species Act. Since being listed, ocelots have only rarely been seen in Arizona. Only one other ocelot, an animal run over near Globe in April 2010, has been confirmed in Arizona since the mid-1960s.

A spokesperson for Game and Fish says if the pictures conclude it is the same ocelot, it will show the cat survived the Monument Fire and remains in the Huachucas.

Ocelots tend to be smaller in size in the more northerly portions of their habitat range than those individuals in the central or southern habitat areas. The upper body coloring is highly variable, ranging from grayish to cinnamon or tawny to reddish brown. Dark markings form chainlike streaks down the sides of the ocelot's body. They have a fairly long tail, as long as the body, and short rounded ears.

If anyone encounters a cat believed to be an ocelot, the Game and Fish Department requests that photos along with observation information be reported immediately to the department.

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