Arizona Game and Fish Department officials report that a rare ocelot was observed February 8, 2011 in the Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona. An individual called the Game and Fish this morning to report that while he was working in his yard in the Huachuca Mountains, his dogs began barking at a cat-like animal which quickly climbed a tree.


When Wildlife officer Brad Fulk got there, he described the moment as one of highlights of his 25-year career. “I can honestly say this, as far as my knowledge goes, hasn’t been documented in the last generation in Arizona. It was immediate that I saw the barring and the elongated striping on the side and corners of the animal and the rings on the tale. And it was 99.9 percent at that time that we had an Ocelot up a tree.” According to Fulk, there was never intention of tracking the ocelot. Their contact was non-intrusive he said.

After taking samples of scat, or animal droppings, officials left the cat in the tree. When they returned later the ocelot was gone.

Today officials came back to try to find hair samples to conduct genetic testing and confirm the cat is wild and not domesticated. Although illegal in Arizona, other states allow ocelots as pets.

In the last three years Arizona has had at least two other sightings. In 2009 the Sky Island Alliance took a picture of one and last year an ocelot was run over in Globe.


Revised photo credit:
©Tony Battiste, Portraits in Nature