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First New Jaguar Since 2011 Spotted In Southern Arizona

Courtesy of AZGFD
State wildlife officials believe they have spotted a new jaguar in southeastern Arizona.

A new jaguar may be spending his time in southern Arizona.

State wildlife officials are examining recent photographs of the cat spotted near Sierra Vista.

Every so often — five to 10 years — a lone jaguar will stray from Sonora and take residence in Arizona, at least temporarily. This most recent photo comes from the Huachuca Mountains, and researchers think it’s a different animal than the one first seen back in 2011.

Jaguars are an endangered species and can have a range of up to 500 square miles, says Mark Hart with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“They are an apex predator. They can find plenty to eat and good habitat in certain parts of southeastern Arizona, but we don’t believe that they are truly at home here because there are no females,” Hart said.

Hart said they believe the cats eventually go back to Sonora to breed. However, some conservationists argue certain areas of Arizona, like the Santa Rita Mountains, are critical habitat for jaguars.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.