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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
An adult male jaguar and an adult male ocelot have been photographed in two separate southern Arizona mountain ranges by automated wildlife monitoring cameras.
The images were collected as part of the Jaguar Survey and Monitoring Project led by the University of Arizona.
Both animals appear to be in good health, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
In late November 2012, the UA project team downloaded photos from wildlife cameras set up as part of the research project and found new pictures of a jaguar in the Santa Rita Mountains taken by three UA cameras and one Game and Fish Department camera.
The cat's unique spot pattern matched that of a male jaguar in the Whetstone Mountains photographed by a hunter in the fall of 2011, providing clear evidence that the big cats travel between southern Arizona's "sky island" mountain ranges.
A new ocelot photo was taken in the Huachuca Mountains west of Sierra Vista by one of the UA project cameras. Again, comparisons of the spot patterns revealed this to be the same male ocelot that has been reported by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and photographed in the Huachucas several times in 2011 and 2012.
The purpose of the UA research project is to establish a non-invasive, hands-off system for detecting and monitoring jaguars and ocelots.
The project is using motion-sensor-activated "trail" cameras placed in areas most likely to detect the spotted cats. Once fully operational, up to 240 paired cameras will be in place throughout the project area to capture images of both sides of detected animals.
The University of Arizona is conducting this large-scale project to detect and monitor jaguars and ocelots along the northern boundary of the U.S.-Mexico international border, from the Baboquivari Mountains in Arizona to the southwestern "boot heel" of New Mexico.
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