Wildcats researching wildcats
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The University of Arizona Wildcats are launching a 3-year-project to study... wildcats. UA researchers are conducting a new, $771 thousand project to research jaguars.
Coordinator for the Wild Cat Research and Conservation Center Lisa Haynes says they hope to get plenty of pictures with 240 motion-censor cameras in 120 remote locations near the border. She says as of now, they know very little about jaguars in Arizona.
"There were some historic records and then of course there were some more recent sightings with photographs," she said.
One sighting was just two weeks ago, Southeast of Tucson. A hunter snapped photos of a 200-pound male jaguar in a tree. It's one of just a handful of rare, confirmed sightings.
Over the next three years, UA researchers will collect their own photos and go out to collect scat for analyzing. Project principal investigator Melanie Culver says they will even use scat-sniffing dogs for the task.
Once back in the lab, they can analyze the cat's scat to identify individual jaguars and learn about their diet, environment, travel patterns and even population count.
Haynes says she hopes the research will help assist Arizona Fish and Wildlife Service protect the endangered species.
"For us to have the opportunity to do this with one of these charismatic cats in our backyard is really really a privilege and it's very exciting for us," she said.
Funding for the project will be distributed over three years from USFWS, provided by the Department of Homeland Security as mitigation for recent border security activity.
To learn more about the research, click here.