It's a great photo, as state officials acknowledge. But it wasn't what it seemed.

This week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department briefly posted, then took down a photo on its Facebook site of an adult male jaguar in the Santa Rita Mountains that came from a hunter who obtained it from his remote trail camera.

The jaguar photo, taken in March, was sharp and the animal was looking straight at the camera. The shot was clearer than many of the jaguar photos that have been repeatedly taken in those mountains in the past year by federally financed remote cameras operated by University of Arizona researchers.

But it turned out the hunter had altered the photo to replace flash-induced "yellow" eyes with a more natural look, Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said. A camera flash can turn a jaguar's eyes yellow, Hart said.

"I don't think it was malicious. He thought he had a great photo," said Hart, who declined to identify the hunter because he doesn't want to hold him up to ridicule. "He made an honest mistake. … Even unaltered, it was a great photo."

The jaguar is the same one that has appeared in the UA photos taken along the Santa Ritas' eastern flank near the proposed Rosemont Mine site.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at or 806-7746.