PHOENIX — Contrary to a news release from a Tucson-based group, biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a jaguar recently captured on a trail video camera in the Chiricahua Mountains is a male.

“This Center for Biological Diversity footage confirms that this is a jaguar we’ve seen before, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has photographic proof that this animal is unequivocally male,” said Jim deVos, assistant director for Wildlife Management at AZGFD. “We promptly informed the organization when the news release was issued that there is clear anatomical evidence of this jaguar’s gender.”

The news release quotes CBD employee Randy Seraglio as saying, “The really exciting part of all this is that we don’t know yet what sex (it) is,” and it refers to “The possibility that it may be a female… capable of jump-starting jaguar recovery in the region.”

A story in the Friday edition of the Arizona Daily Star says that Arizona Game and Fish Biologist Tim Snow informed Seraglio of the cat’s gender on Thursday morning as soon as their news release was made public, but CBD has yet to correct the release on their website.

“One must wonder about CBD’s motives for mischaracterizing this animal, given the clear evidence to the contrary,” deVos said. “We recognize the importance of finding a new jaguar in Arizona, however, no female jaguars have been seen in Arizona in more than 50 years. Those that have come here from Mexico have all been solitary males,” deVos said.

The proliferation of trail cameras near the border has afforded a glimpse into travels of Arizona’s unique visiting jaguars, but the distance from the nearest breeding population in Mexico and the decades-long lack of a documented female make a population in this state unforeseeable.

Because of the distance from other jaguar populations, some 130 miles south of the US border, Arizona is not considered optimal jaguar habitat.