Recent photographs taken by a hunter of an ocelot appear to show the endangered cat is the same one spotted in the Huachuca Mountains last year, state wildlife officials said.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the latest photographs provided to the agency show the animal has grown, gained weight and appears healthy. The agency said the pictures will be reviewed by other experts to confirm its findings.
Wildlife officials said the sighting is promising given the limited number of ocelots in the wild.
"The weight gain and growth of the ocelot is evident in the photos," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. "That it has remained in the Huachucas this long is very good news."
The small spotted cats with a long tail have been listed as endangered since 1982 under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Only one other ocelot has been confirmed in Arizona since the mid-1960s, and that animal was run over near Globe in April 2010.
The present range for ocelots is in the eastern and western lowlands of Mexico, from southern Mexico through Central America and in the lowland areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.