The only known jaguar to be roaming the wild in the United States may have company.
A remote camera in southeastern Arizona captured an image of what could be second jaguar at night near a Fort Huachuca trail in the Huachuca Mountains, officials said Wednesday.
“While this is exciting news, we are examining photographic evidence to determine if we’re seeing a new cat here, or if this is an animal that has been seen in Arizona before,” Jim deVos, assistant director of the Wildlife Management Division at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said in a statement.
If confirmed, the jaguar would be one of only a small handful spotted in the US in the last 20 years.
Jaguars — the third-largest cats in the world after tigers and lions — once lived throughout the Southwest, but they disappeared over the past 150 years, victims to habitat loss and predator control programs intended to protect livestock, researchers say.
In February, a jaguar known as "El Jefe" — Spanish for “the boss” — was spotted roaming the wooded areas near Tucson, Arizona, in extremely rare video, making the 7-year-old male cat the only one to be documented, according to the Center for Biodiversity, which released the footage.
With the latest image now on file, Arizona officials said they will work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to verify whether there’s another jaguar in the region. Preliminary indications are that the cat is also a male.