MONTEVIDEO Security forces and firefighters in the town of Sauce de Portezuelo in the eastern Uruguayan province of Maldonado are on the hunt for a jaguar that has been roaming its streets for several days, officials said.
Carlos Fontes, representative of the Maldonado emergency management office, said on Uruguayan radio station El Espectador that a sizeable force of firefighters, police and municipal employees is carrying out an intense search.
According to Fontes, a little girl saw the animal last Wednesday and identified it when shown pictures of the jaguar species.
The official also said that over the past few days some domestic animals have turned up with fresh wounds and that a large feline footprint was found in freshly laid cement.
In his opinion, the big cat probably belongs to a private individual who bought it on the illegal market when it was a cub and has now set it free, or else it escaped. He dismissed the possibility that the specimen escaped from the Cerro Pan de Azucar Zoo in Maldonado province.
Fontes said the search team is equipped with tranquilizer rifles and dart guns to sedate the jaguar in order to capture it.