Oct 12, 2012 2:27 PM by Ian Cross
TUCSON - The mysterious tail caught on camera earlier this month has been identified: according to Arizona Game and Fish and the scientific community, it belongs to a jaguar.
The tail was caught by a hunter's trail camera southeast of Tucson, but Game and Fish officials could not positively identify it as a jaguar, as it showed only the tail and a small portion of a hind quarter.
"Analysis of the spot pattern on the tail as well as the animal's size when compared to the surrounding vegetation and to other animals led us to believe the photo showed a jaguar. Without biasing the results by announcing our in-house conclusions, we asked others that work with large cat conservation to weigh in because of the limited information the photo provided," said Game and Fish Nongame Branch Chief Eric Gardner.
Jaguars have been a protected species in the United States since 1997, the year their presence in Arizona and New Mexico was confirmed, Game and Fish officials stated. It is believed that southern Arizona is the northernmost range for a population of jaguars living in Sonora, Mexico.
Game and Fish officials say that sportsmen are an important resource for biologists - four of the last five confirmed jaguar sightings in Arizona have been reported by hunters who took responsible action to document the animal and report it.