This is from the AZ Daily Star in Tucson:
Death won’t stop jaguar captures
Officials say they will study their procedures; environmentalists decry lack of recovery plan
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.06.2009
Authorities plan to re-evaluate how they capture jaguars in light of this week’s death of Macho B, but they won’t let that death stop them from trying to capture another of the big cats.
On Thursday, three days after Macho B was put down because of advanced kidney failure following his capture and recapture, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official said that “when the right opportunity presents itself, we will again seek to collar and monitor a jaguar.”
“Whether capturing and handling birds, fish or jaguar, we acknowledge that there are risks to individual animals,” the service’s Steve Spangle said at an agency press briefing in Tucson on Macho B’s death. “We weigh those risks against the benefit that research-acquired knowledge can provide to the survival of the whole species. We need to acquire data to inform wise management decisions for jaguars.”
But environmentalists, who held a memorial for the animal right after the news briefing, said it makes no sense to try to capture another jaguar when there is still no recovery plan for the embattled species. The service has refused to do a recovery plan, but environmentalists have filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.
“The price for this research and our need to know more is already too high,” said Sergio Avila, a Sky Island Alliance biologist. “At some point, dignity and respect has to play a bigger role, just as we would expect our elders to be treated. It’s not up to agency personnel to call this; it’s up to the law, and the law requires a recovery plan for the species.”
At the briefing, Spangle — along with a veterinarian who examined the jaguar before its euthanization, a Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist and a Game and Fish commissioner — defended the state agency’s performance when handling Macho B and said its critics are wrong. Macho B, age 15 or 16, was the oldest jaguar known in the wild and the last jaguar known to be living in the United States.
The Game and Fish Department is having a jaguar advisory team of scientists review its protocols for capturing the cat “to see if it needs tweaking,” said Bill Van Pelt, the department’s non-game birds and mammals program manager. He said the scientists have leeway to recommend if the department should hold off on future captures. But he and Spangle emphasized that the jaguar died as a result of the kidney failure and not the capture.
Dr. Dean Rice, a veterinarian who treated Macho B, has said that the capture could have contributed to or sped up the cat’s death. But he said at the briefing that the animal would have died “in a matter of time, the next two months for sure,” without capture, because of its kidney failure.
At the memorial, a Center for Biological Diversity official said that the animal will not have died in vain if his death leads the Fish and Wildlife Service to produce a recovery plan. Center for Biological Diversity officials turned over to the service dozens of e-mails from its members supporting a plan.
“A recovery plan will ensure that behavioral and habitat information from capturing and radio-collaring jaguars will help recover jaguars and protect their homes,” said member Laura Herndon of Burbank, Calif. “Recovery plans are road maps for bringing endangered species from the brink of extinction to a secure existence. For jaguars, that means more than just a handful of animals in a tiny portion of their original range.”
About 60 people attended the memorial rally, held along the Santa Cruz River near Downtown and across the street from the Fish and Wildlife Service Tucson office, where the press briefing occurred.
“We need to ensure that jaguars can come back and to protect any other jaguars still there,” said the center’s Michael Robinson.
In an e-mail to a center member Thursday, Game and Fish said it “fully supports” a recovery plan and hinted that with a new federal administration in office, “more recovery plans may be developed more quickly.”
But in discussion with center officials after the rally, the service’s Spangle said the agency isn’t changing its stance.
“Our position is in the courts, and that’s our position,” said Spangle, referring to an upcoming March 23 hearing over the recovery plan lawsuit. “We believe there are other tools to protect the jaguar besides regulation.”
And from the “Opinions are like Butt Cracks, Everyone Has One” File:
Agencies criticized over jaguar’s death
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.06.2009
The following letters are in response to the March 3 article “Officials euthanize AZ jaguar; he was ill.”
Jaguar’s capture, killing was appalling
As one who has been part of the effort to monitor and research jaguars in Southern Arizona and to educate the public about the presence of these amazing big cats, I am saddened and outraged by the capture and killing of Macho B.
Arizona Game and Fish and its allies on the Jaguar Conservation Team have been pressing for at least two years to capture and radio-collar the one jaguar we know to be a permanent resident. “Macho B” has been around for more than a decade, and some of us opposed the capture-and-collar plan of our sole resident on the grounds that it was too risky and that there really was never a plan in place as to what scientific value might justify that risk. Now the jaguar has been captured, stressed, drugged, radio-collared, drugged again, recaptured and killed.
I can’t help but wonder which bureaucrat with a big-game-hunter mentality will get the trophy.
Albert Vetere Lannon
Wild creatures are worth more
Despite the constant drumbeat of bad news on the economy and worries for employment and family, what brought me to tears this morning was the word that Macho B was dead.
Instead of a natural death in the oak woodlands of Southern Arizona, he died in captivity, the antithesis of his life. It may have been the humane thing, that he end his life as many of us end ours — in a sterile, clinical setting. And as a scientist, I understand the need to gather information, which in this case may have triggered his sudden decline.
Yet I resent that science had to be brought to bear on an issue that seems so obvious. A wild, exotic, beautiful thing like a jaguar roaming our wild lands is worth more than development, ranching, mining or homeland security can ever provide.
Research biologist, Tucson
State, federal agencies have done a disservice
The responsibility for the death of Macho B lies directly in the lap of Arizona Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Arizona Game and Fish has had a long history of carrying out anti-predator programs (witness their recent support of the predator shoot-em-up at Globe). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also failed to develop a long-term recovery plan for the jaguar in the United States.
The construction of pedestrian fencing along the border in the past year by Homeland Security has contributed to the fragmentation of jaguar’s and other species’ habitat. Promised funds from Homeland Security to mitigate adverse impacts to the jaguar and other species have not materialized and likely will not. I wonder if Jack Childs will have any more jaguars to photograph.
Shame on you Arizona Game and Fish and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Peter L. Steere
Let nature take its course
As a native of Tucson, I was disturbed to read this article.
Since when does the Game and Fish Department choose who lives and who dies in the animal kingdom based on the animal’s health — rabies and infectious disease aside? Why not let nature take its course?
Laura Caywood Barker
Someone must be held responsible
The sad destruction of the magnificent jaguar, Macho B, by the Game and Fish Department is another example of unnecessary and incompetent government interference in the lives of people, wildlife and the environment.
I hope someone will be held accountable and suffer punishment because a private citizen found responsible for contributing to the demise of the cat would have had the book thrown at him.
Edward A Marue
Management consultant, Tucson