Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jaguars migrating back into Arizona

Todd Kunz Reports
Oct 14, 2006 07:58 AM EDT

You can always see a jaguar in at the zoo. But did you know, you can see one, roaming freely, in the Arizona wild too?

News 4's Todd Kunz talked to one man with visual proof.


"Jaguars occur naturally in this area of Central Sonora and are moving across these mountain ranges in green," says wildlife biologist Sergio Avila as he points to a map of Northern Mexico.

Yes, jaguars, the third biggest cat in the world. They're moving north, back into Southeast Arizona.

They were here hundreds of years ago, even as far north as the Grand Canyon, but they are making a slow return.

Biologists say there are only about four, possibly five, of the spotted jaguars in Southeast Arizona right now.

The Sky Island Alliance is getting their evidence of jaguars in Northern Mexico and Southeast Arizona using non-invasive techniques like a camera trap. Inside is a sensor and a regular camera.

Alongside a trail when an animal walks by, it trips the sensor and the camera shoots a photo.

According to Avila, the migration of jaguars is an indication of a healthy eco-system, but they will only move so far north before running into too many people.

"One limit will be not being able to keep those corridors, the natural corridors that animals use in order to get to different places."

Many groups are interested in preserving this endangered animal, including both the Arizona and New Mexico Game and Fish...working with a committee in Mexico.

"The jaguar, just like many other wild animals does not possess any threat or bring any threat to human lives, (no) more than rattlesnakes, or mountain lions, or black bears."

The goal now is only preservation, but the future is to grow the jaguar population.

You may be surprised to find the feline roams in our backyard.

Digging deeper...there are some other species, commonly found in Arizona that you may not realize.

Tim Snow with the Arizona Game and Fish says we have the Mexican sub-species of opossum here, along with the thick-billed parrot, and 28 different species of bats.

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