Jaguar surveying and monitoring in the United States

Open-File Report 2016-1095
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



Because of the jaguar’s (Panthera onca) endangered status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 throughout its range (from Arizona in the north to Argentina in the south), jaguar individuals and populations are monitored to varying degrees throughout their range. Knowledge gained from monitoring jaguars is helpful for wildlife managers who are responsible for conserving this species. The University of Arizona (UA) has conducted a multiyear surveying and monitoring effort for jaguars and ocelots in southern Arizona and New Mexico. The purpose of this work was to establish an effective surveying and monitoring system for jaguars along the United States-Mexico border. Surveying and monitoring in this study focused on the United States side of the border, but the methods could also be used in Mexico. The intent was to develop and implement a surveying and monitoring system that would provide the greatest probability of recording jaguar presence in, and passage through, the border area.

This project established and implemented a noninvasive system for detecting and monitoring jaguars. The study area incorporates most of the mountainous areas north of the United States-Mexico international border and south of Interstate 10, from the Baboquivari Mountains in Arizona to the Animas Mountains in New Mexico. We used two primary methods to detect exact jaguar locations: paired motion-sensor trail cameras, and genetic testing of large carnivore scat collected in the field. We emphasize that this project used entirely noninvasive methods and no jaguars were captured, radiocollared, baited, or harassed in any way. Scat sample collection occurred during the entire field part of the study, but was intensified with the use of a trained scat detection dog following the first jaguar photo detection event (photo detection event was October 2012, scat detection dog began working January 2013). We also collected weather, vegetation, and geographic information system (GIS) data to analyze in conjunction with photo and video data. The results of this study are intended to aid and inform future management and conservation practices for jaguars and ocelots in this region.

Suggested Citation

Culver, Melanie, 2016, Jaguar surveying and monitoring in the United States (ver. 1.1, November 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1095, 228 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Jaguar Surveying and Monitoring in the United States
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Management Implications
  • References Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
  • Appendixes 1–6
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Jaguar surveying and monitoring in the United States
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2016-1095
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161095
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 228 p.
Country United States
State Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas
Other Geospatial United States - Mexico Border
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details