Claws out for big cat protection


Macho B's death, contentious and untimely, could also be criminal. 

The capture, collaring and euthanization of America’s last known wild jaguar in March was illegal, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, who brought a lawsuit against Arizona Game and Fish Department yesterday. The Center asserts that AZ Game and Fish did not have the required permits to allow the capture of endangered jaguars, and seeks to prevent the state agency from any other similar captures until it gets all the necessary permits.

This lawsuit is separate from a criminal investigation of Macho B’s treatment that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertook in April, which will look into "all aspects of the incident." Tucson congressman Raul Grijalva, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife pushed for a federal investigation after concerns were raised regarding whether Macho B's capture was intentional or not, reported the Arizona Daily Star, which has been following the issue.

“We hope that the Fish and Wildlife Service will seek accountability and justice for the loss of the last known jaguar in United States,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “Our suit is about preventing future harm to jaguars in the United States,” according to the press release.

While protection and appropriate treatment of the iconic feline is admirable and important, it's unfortunate that this comes after the killing of the last known wild one, which ultimately may have been unnecessary: Was our last wild jaguar euthanized by mistake?

Paul Correa
Paul Correa
Oct 02, 2009 08:51 PM
Both the criminal prosecution and the Center's lawsuit are misguided. The AGFD biologists are passionate about all wildlife and did not intentionally kill the cat, but they are being villainized. These biologists aren't getting rich from their work. The Center, on the other hand, has capitalized for some time on images of the jaguar(s) to raise funds and promote its extreme positions. The current suit is seeking an injunction against a past harm. It should be dismissed. Criminal charges are not warranted, either. Not by a long shot. Several years ago there was a rare ESA criminal prosecution against a member of the Klump ranching family and his friend who pursued jaguars into Mexico. The evidence room held two stuffed jaguars and several ocelots (all poorly sewn, since no legit taxidermist would touch them). Those guys deserved to be prosecuted -- a far cry from the hard-working state biologists!
Also, I'm not sure it is accurate to call this the "last" known wild jaguar. The area in Southern Arizona (which I think I know pretty well from working and hunting out there for decades) is considered the northernmost range of these cats, has been historically occupied by them, and there is no reason to think that a dispersing young male can not occupy it again. Anectdotally, there are people around Patagonia and Sasabe (small towns in the region) who believe there have been, and still are, more than one jaguar in the region. I recently spoke with an opal miner who works a small claim in the Atascosa Mountains who claimed to have seen a jaguar.
Larry Audsley
Larry Audsley
Dec 08, 2009 11:08 PM
Well said, Mr. Correa. AGFD and the other volunteers were doing everything they could to help the jaguar as a species. It was unfortunate that the old jaguar died, but it was near the end of its life span anyway. The non-profits who filed the lawsuit are indeed seeking a fundraising opportunity and political theater.
Macho B
Harley G. Shaw
Harley G. Shaw
Dec 09, 2009 06:15 AM
I agree with Paul Correa's assessment of the situation. Macho B was certainly not Arizona's "last jaguar." His death was unfortunate, but face it, he was a very old cat.
The careers of some very fine biologists have been damaged by a frivolous lawsuit and irresponsible media hype.