/ Modified dec 8, 2016 7:15 a.m.

Jaguar Photographed in Huachuca Mountains, a First

Preliminary indications are that the animal has not been spotted before.

Jaguar 12-16 A photo of a Jaguar in the Huachuca Mountains taken on December 1, 2016 (PHOTO: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

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Arizona Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday released a photo of a jaguar taken by a military-owned camera in the Huachuca Mountains.

The camera is part of a monitoring program run by the Fort Huachuca Army installation. The image was captured on Dec. 1.

According to Game and Fish officials, early indications are that this is a jaguar that has not been photographed in the U.S. before now.

“It’s exciting, but it’s not surprising," said Game and Fish's Mark Hart. "We know that every five-to-10 years, a solitary male jaguar comes into southeastern Arizona and roams sometimes a huge expanse of territory, 500 square miles in one case. Why they come up is a bit of a mystery.”

Hart said there is plenty of food for the apex predator in the Huachucas, but there is no proof of a female jaguar north of Mexico.

It has been some time since a jaguar has been seen in the Huachucas, according to Hart. But another species of cat has been sighted multiple times recently: ocelots.

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