WILLCOX, Arizona – Wildlife conservationists have released new video footage showing what is believed to be one of three jaguars to be seen in the United States in the past few years.
The Center for Biological Diversity released the video taken this summer on Thursday, saying the big cat was the same one first seen on camera in November 2016.
The video also shows a black bear, deer, mountain lion, coati and black bear cub passing through.
Conservationists think the recent sightings are evidence that the jaguar is returning to the U.S. They’re suing to stop a proposed wall on the border, which they say will deter jaguars who migrate from south.
The Southwest was home to jaguars before habitat loss and predator control programs aimed at protecting livestock eliminated them over the last 150 years.
The Center for Biological Diversity says it doesn’t know the jaguar’s gender. The two others that have been seen recently are both male, and state officials have said it’s been decades since a female was here.
The first jaguar to be recently seen, dubbed as “El Jefe” — Spanish for “the boss” — popped up in the Whetstone Mountains in southeastern Arizona in 2011 when he was about 3 years old. He was seen again in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson around September 2015.
A trail camera photo taken on Dec. 1 in a mountain range near Fort Huachuca, the Army installation about 75 miles southeast of Tucson, captured a second jaguar that was seen on camera again in January.
In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a photo showing the third jaguar wandering through the Dos Cabezas Mountains in Arizona about 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. That same jaguar was spotted this summer in the Chiricahua Mountains near Willcox.
Around seven jaguars have been documented in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico since 1996.