Rare Ocelot Sighting In Arizona

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 9th, 2011

Yesterday, Tuesday, there was a rare appearance of an ocelot in southern Arizona. The cat was first noticed by a man who was working in his yard in the Huachuca Mountains.

This ocelot was seen on February 8, 2011, in Arizona.

Photos were taken by wildlife official after the man’s dogs chased the cat up a tree. After the state wildlife experts took a photographic record and verified the encounter, then they left the animal alone.

The species has been federally endangered since 1982, and this was only the second time one of these felids has been seen since the mid-1960s.

KPHO-Phoenix mentioned that only one other ocelot, an animal run over near Globe in April 2010, has been confirmed in Arizona since the mid 1960s. One other ocelot was reportedly captured on film by the Sky Island Alliance in November of 2009; however, it has not been possible to fully verify the species or the animal’s origin based on that photo.

The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is also known as the Dwarf Leopard, McKenney’s Wildcat, Jaguatirica (in Brazil), Jaguarete (in Paraguay and Argentina), Tigrillo (in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru), Cunaguaro (in Venezuela), or Manigordo (in Costa Rica and Panama). This small felid is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. North of Mexico; it is found regularly only in the extreme southern part of Texas, although there are rare sightings in Southern Arizona.

The incident reporting is thanks to wildlife writer Pete Thomas and other media.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “Rare Ocelot Sighting In Arizona”

  1. samthemonsterman responds:

    Yes! I hope to God these cats are coming back. Their eyes are striking. Check out this National Geographic photo.

  2. jimlyding responds:

    I’m very familiar with both the Huachuca Mtns and the area around Globe in Arizona. These areas are about 150 (give or take) miles apart with lots of diverse habitat in between. The potential good news is that ocelots being encountered in such relatively widespread locales means that there is a decent possibility of them being extant in southern Arizona. The potential bad news is that these 2 cats may be escaped/released pets or are merely isolated wanderers. I don’t know the sex of these 2 cats, and most male larger wild cats (a 20 lb. ocelot is a pretty large specimen) range over very wide areas, and frequently migrate long distances away from where they were born. I agree with Loren’s widely-stated claim that the escaped/released pet angle is brought up far too often, but ocelots are sometimes kept as pets, and I’d bet they’re not ideal analogues to house cats. Think about a 15-20 lb. cat marking its territory in your house or sharpening its claws on your furniture.

    One thing that makes me wonder why we don’t hear of more ocelot sightings in Arizona is that there is a lot of mountain lion hunting there. If ocelots were relatively common in southeastern Arizona I would expect a lot more of them to be treed by hunting hounds just as lion hunters were the first people to encounter jaguars in Arizona after supposedly being extirpated for decades.

    However, I’d be surprised if there aren’t about a dozen ocelots in Arizona. The SE quadrant of Arizona has a lot of wild areas that see only a few people during a given year. The area between Superior and Globe is very rugged, and has a good (for Arizona) number of well-watered drainages and isolated mountains that range from upper Sonoran desert to pinyon-juniper woodland and even an aspen-Douglas fir forest on top of the Pinal Mountains just south of Globe. In other words, there is a wide variety of habitat that could support and hide ocelots.

  3. DWA responds:

    “One thing that makes me wonder why we don’t hear of more ocelot sightings in Arizona is that there is a lot of mountain lion hunting there. If ocelots were relatively common in southeastern Arizona I would expect a lot more of them to be treed by hunting hounds …”

    Actually, aren’t hounds conditioned to only follow sign of the animals they’re hunting? Would they even follow an ocelot track?

    It’s possible that the jaguar encounters were as much serendipity as the result of the hounds’ pursuit. But I’m just asking, as I’m not sure about this.

  4. Bigfootfinder responds:

    Some people interbreed Ocelots with ordinary Housecats; thus making it a Hybrid cat.

    Also some people interbreed other species of Cat with ordinary Housecats. Even Larger species of Cat than the Ocelot.

    But when you interbreed animals, you do not know how their temperament will be. Interbreeding animals is Dangerous and can cause harm to you or others.

  5. jimlyding responds:

    There are lion hounds that were trained to chase lions, but have treed jaguars. I don’t precisely know why a jaguar would provoke harrying activity in the hounds like lions do, or if ocelots would elicit the same response from the dogs. When Warner Glenn took his famous photos of a jaguar that his lion hounds had cornered, his dogs behaved exactly as they would if the quarry was a lion. Again, no idea if lion hounds would even pay attention to an ocelot. I suspect than an ocelot would be able to disappear just like a bobcat when hunting hounds are in the area. I believe ocelots are largely nocturnal so they’re probably hiding somewhere during the day when hunts take place.

    There are lots of variables to consider. Additionally, it wouldn’t surprise me if Arizona hunters would keep quiet about ocelot sightings because they’re worried about an endangered species interfering with their hunting rights. I suspect a lot of lion hunters would keep quiet about a jaguar sighting for that reason. Heck, a lot of lion hunters might not even know if their dogs treed an ocelot or another small-ish cat because they frequently follow their dogs in a truck, and only get out when a possible kill is imminent. Not very sporting in my mind. At least use horses (or a mule if you’re smart).

    I wonder if Matt Bille is around as he lives in Sierra Vista, AZ (or used to). If you’re interested in Warner Glenn’s encounter with Macho A (as opposed to the ill-fated Macho B some of you have read about) check out his book “Eyes of Fire: Encounter with a Borderlands Jaguar.” Short piece with cool photos.
    Jim Lyding
    Walnut Creek, CA

  6. DWA responds:

    jimlyding: thanks.

    Dogs are individuals with personalities; their reaction to a big cat may be a case of hell-with-this, I know there’s an issue here. Maybe one dog takes that tack and the rest follow.

    Of course with that general dog-cat thing, I might expect an ocelot to elicit the same response. But they might be tougher to tree.

    And yep, you might be right about hunters too. Might not make a lot of sense to you to kill your hunting experience by yapping.

    Curious: why are mules a smart choice? I remember the first time I saw people on muleback, two hunters in the Flat Tops Wilderness in CO. I thought to myself: I didn’t know mules were good for that. But I’ve seen it a number of times since. There must be a reason, I just don’t know what it is.

    I certainly have seen Glenn’s account. I’d forgotten about the circumstances under which it happened. But boy do I remember the photos. (Should have bought it, and don’t know why I didn’t.)

  7. jimlyding responds:

    A lot of people think that mules are more sure-footed than horses. The general idea is that a horse is faster than a mule, but mules are smarter, have more endurance (there is some debate on this idea), and are better in rough country. I have no idea from a personal standpoint, but know a few folks who ride mules. There is a lot of mule advocacy out there.

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