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Ocelot in Southern Arizona Left Unharmed by State Game and Fish; Agency Killed Rare Jaguar in 2009

A rare and endangered ocelot was sighted in southern Arizona this week -- and, believe it or not, the Arizona Game and Fish Department didn't capture and kill the animal.

As few animal lovers will soon forget, Game and Fish euthanized a magnificent specimen of a jaguar, "Macho B," after mistakenly concluding that the big cat was dying. Emil McCain, a contractor for the agency, pleaded guilty last year to violating the Endangered Species Act in luring Macho B to a snare trap. The feds are still investigating the incident.

In the latest sighting of a rare wildcat, Game and Fish reports that a landowner near the Huachua Mountains noticed that his dogs had treed the spotted kitty.

A Game and Fish officer was dispatched to the area and confirmed the sighting.

  

According to Game and Fish:

Once the final confirmation was determined, the officer directed that all humans and dogs retreat from the area, and the ocelot, apparently unharmed, was allowed to go on his way.

Much better than the Macho B outcome, obviously.

Only one other ocelot sighting in Arizona since the 1960s has been confirmed -- a furry lump of road-kill near Globe.

Officials aren't sure whether the cat is truly wild or a released pet.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.