From 80 yards away, hunter Terry Penrod couldn’t tell what kind of cat he was shooting at.
It was around 7 p.m. in late September 1963, near Big Lake in the White Mountains. The sun was down and the shadows were deep, clouding the animal’s features. He saw no stripes, spots or colors.
One shot from his .257 Winchester rifle cut the animal down.
A friend asked Penrod, then 24 years old, what he’d shot. The answer: “I killed a big bobcat.”
His kill turned out to be the nation’s last known female jaguar. Not that there was much outcry. Back then, Penrod recalls, “everything was a predator – lions, jaguars, bobcat, lynx. It was legal to shoot them.”
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