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Mee-wow! Footage released of jaguar roaming hills south of Tucson

PHOENIX — This isn’t your momma’s house kitty: Footage was released this week of a jaguar roaming the hills south of Tucson.

Released by the Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation CATalyst and published by the Tucson Sentinel, the video shows the jaguar, nicknamed “El Jefe,” meandering through the Santa Rita Mountains about 25 miles south of Tucson.

The images of the big cat were caught on remote survey cameras, some of which are part of a Department of Homeland Security network. While the cameras have snapped plenty of pics of El Jefe, the video is the first of its kind to be released.

The footage of El Jefe — the only known jaguar living in the wilds of the United States — was taken in 2015 and was part of a study on jaguar and ocelot movements.

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” said Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Conservation CATalyst. “We use our specially trained scat detection dog and spent three years tracking in rugged mountains, collecting data and refining camera sites; these videos represent the peak of our efforts.”

Conservation CATalyst received help from DHS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the University of Arizona to conduct the study. Cameras were placed at more than 120 sites across southern Arizona and New Mexico.

“Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars,” Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst, told the Tucson publication. “We look forward to building upon on these data so that we can collectively make better decisions on how to manage these fascinating and endangered cats.”

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