A camera placed in the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista has snapped a photo of a rare, endangered ocelot.

It's the second photo record of the elusive species in the range this year.

"This is good news out of the Huachucas after all the bad news of the Monument Fire there" last month, said Mark Hart, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Hart said the photo was taken the night of May 26 by a remote camera placed in the range by hunters to observe wildlife movements.

When the hunters checked the camera and realized the significance of the photo, they notified Game and Fish officers.

"It could very well be the same animal" as an ocelot photographed Feb. 9 after it was treed by an area landowner's dogs, Hart said.

"But we don't know for sure whether it's the same or a different animal," he said. Biologists "will try to use comparisons of the spotting patterns, known as rosettes, to determine if they are the same animal."

Hart declined to specify the location in the Huachuca Mountains where the photos were taken.

He said wildlife officers will go to the site with the hunters to verify the location and check the camera for any additional photos of an ocelot.

Ocelots, listed by the federal government as an endangered species, have turned up only rarely in Southern Arizona in recent years.

Hart said an ocelot was photographed in Cochise County by the Sky Island Alliance in 2009, and another was found dead in Globe in 2010.

 

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192.

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