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Arizona man spots jaguar; first U.S. sighting in 2 years

November 23, 2011 |  4:34 pm

This adult male is first jaguar seen in the U.S. in two years. An Arizona hunting guide encountered it Nov. 19

More than two years after the demise of the country's only known wild jaguar, wildlife enthusiasts got some good news when a southern Arizona hunting guide saw another one -- an adult male. 

It was the first confirmed sighting of the endangered cat in the U.S. since the other jaguar, known as "Macho B," died, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Donnie Fenn was mountain lion hunting in Cochise County last weekend with his 10-year-old daughter and a friend when Fenn’s hound dogs sped out of the canyon they were searching, he told the paper.

“Then, I was about 200 yards from a tree they were barking under, but I couldn't yet see what was there,” Fenn said. “I pulled my camera out, zoomed in, and I could tell right away it was a jaguar. It was big and spotted.”

Fenn, 32, immediately called state officials to report the sighting. Then the jaguar leaped out of the tree and Fenn’s dogs gave chase.

“I've seen a lot of lions treed up and stuff, and I've been in a lot of pretty hairy situations, but I've never experienced something like this,” Fenn told the Daily Star. “The roaring and growling. It was quite unreal.”

Fenn pulled his wounded dogs away from the snarling jaguar, which clambered into another tree. Fenn took several dozen pictures of the spotted cat, then scurried to safety with his friend and daughter.

Later, state biologists combed the scene for claw marks and hair, which they removed for testing. 

As for Macho B, he had been trapped, fitted with a radio collar and released in February 2009. A month later, he was captured again and euthanized due to health problems, enraging wildlife advocates.

An Arizona biologist named Emil McCain pleaded guilty to intentionally trapping the jaguar when he was authorized only to ensnare cougars and bears for research, a misdemeanor. At the time, McCain’s attorney told the Associated Press: “If the cat hadn’t died, there would have been a much different view of what took place here.”

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-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas

Twitter.com/ashleypowers

Photo: This adult male jaguar is the first seen in the U.S. in two years. Arizona hunting guide Donnie Fenn encountered it in Cochise County on Nov. 19. Credit: Chasin' Tail Guide Service 

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