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Arizona Docent

juvenile female ocelot

October 28, 2019

juvenile female ocelot
Arizona Docent, 28 Oct 2019
Hipporex, Neva, Moebelle and 12 others like this.
    • Terry Thomas
      Very nice shot.
    • animal_expert01
      How common is this species in the wild in Arizona? Have they always lived there or have the migrated there recently? Although I know they are wild there it just seems odd to know there are ocelots roaming the Arizona desert! Also are Jaguars found in Arizona?
    • birdsandbats
      @animal_expert01 Ocelots historically occured in Arizona, but are now absent. The only place in the US where they can still be found is southern Texas, near the Mexican border. There are no Jaguars in the US anymore.

      It's also worth noting that if Trump builds his wall the Ocelots will all die of inbreeding (no longer having access to the Mexican animals) and there would be chance of Jaguars ever returning.
    • animal_expert01
      @birdsandbats how many ocelots roughly are in Texas? What happend to the jaguars and how high was the population before it died out?
    • birdsandbats
      @animal_expert01 There are around 60 Ocelots living in Texas.

      Jaguars disappeared from from the US in 1963, when the last female was killed in Arizona. Occasional wanderers are still seen, but no population remains. There aren't any good historical figures for Jaguar numbers, but it's worth noting they were widespread across the counry. There are reliable historical reports of Jaguars as far north as Monterrey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and central Ohio. Ancient Jaguar-related artifacts have been found in the Pacific Northwest and Florida.
    • Arizona Docent
      THERE ARE OCELOTS IN ARIZONA! Interestingly, it is a fairly recent discovery. It is only in the last decade or so that they have been confirmed. Camera traps have revealed a few but also one was videotaped and photographed in person by staff from Arizona Game & Fish (after a hiker reported it in a tree). This was early 2011 and here is the photo: Rare ocelot seen in So. Arizona . It appears to have a much lighter coat than ocelots I have seen in zoos, but it is in bright sunlight and the photo is a bit overexposed. Even still, look at how the color inside the rosettes seems to be darker than the background color outside the rosettes? Is it just me or do other small cat fans like @TeaLovingDave and @devilfish and @Neva confirm my observation?

      What is really interesting is that a couple years before that a roadkill ocelot was found near Globe, Arizona, which is very far north of the border (in fact it is northeast of Phoenix). I saw a presentation by borderland jaguar researchers (two of whom were personal friends) and Game & Fish personnel and I asked them if DNA studies had been done on the body to assess whether it was in fact a wild Sonoran ocelot. (My suspicion was that being that far north it was an escaped pet). They said yes DNA did confirm it was a Sonoran ocelot.

      NOW TO JAGUARS. In 1996 two different male jaguars were photographed in person by two different mountain lion hunters who were using tracking hounds (and assumed they were tracking a mountain lion). The first sighting was in the Peloncillo Mountains on the Arizona and New Mexico border by Warner Glen. He subsequently published a booklet with the story and photos called Eyes of Fire. A few months later the second sighting was recorded near Baboquivari Peak in south central Arizona (southwest of Tucson) by Jack Childs. It should be noted that neither of these hunters chose to shoot the jaguars.

      Jack later formed (in coordination with Arizona Game & Fish and US Fish & Wildlife) the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project. Initially they used camera traps with slide film (since digital camera technology was in its infancy). At the time I worked at Tucson's main photo lab and was there when Jack picked up one of the first rolls of film with a jaguar on it. He had the slides on the light table and called me over, so I was the second person on earth to see one of the earliest photos of an Arizona jaguar. Exciting stuff indeed! That project ended in controversy (involving a later project staff member) and if you are interested you can read about it in the book Cloak and Jaguar by Janay Brun. It was replaced by a larger project (with cameras in several mountain ranges) run by University of Arizona and headed by a biologist who is a personal friend of mine. That project ended a couple years ago when the funding ran out, but yielded some amazing images (including one night shot with snow falling - I mean who thinks of jaguars in pine forests with snow?). All of the jaguars captured on camera were males dispersing from Mexico, so it is extremely unlikely that there will again be a breeding population in the United States.
    • Arizona Docent
      After I posted the comment above, I took a look at the photo we are commenting on (from Arizona Sonora Desert Museum). It seems the color inside the rosettes is indeed darker than the background color outside the rosettes, so maybe that is not an unusual characteristic after all.
    • animal_expert01
    • Arizona Docent
      I don't know the numbers in Mexico which of course has different populations (Sonoran in the north along the Arizona border and Yucatan in the south going into Central America). However a group headquartered here in Tucson is doing amazing work to protect the northernmost breeding population of jaguars in Sonora, Mexico. Northern Jaguar Project has created a large jaguar preserve by purchasing ranch land and has also persuaded (through award money for live jaguar photos) neighboring ranches to stop killing jaguars. Here is their website: Northern Jaguar Project – A binational effort to save the northernmost jaguar population
    • birdsandbats
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  • Category:
    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
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    Arizona Docent
    Date:
    28 Oct 2019
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