Feds to investigate Macho B saga

Not surprsingly the feds are looking into the whole Macho B tale and the ugly turns it has takenin the past few days. I hope we get some answers as I am appalled by the glee with which some in the environmental movement have responded to this story. If someone has done something wrong let them face the consequences. But if in the end this is all bull crap or more nuanced than this person was BAD and this one wore a HALO, I sure hope there are some public apologies. Again, I go back to my long-held position that if the CBD and SIA types can’t get along with the Jag Team types were are well and truly screwed. Eyes on the prize folks; it’s not about who loves jaguars more or who has a purer heart in the cosmic sense or who pays for conservation with the tax on their purchases. Everybody get in the game, because the people don’t give a rat’s ass about wild animals, open lands and conservation for the future are legion. The enemy is not the hunter or non-hunter, the scientist or the amateur naturalist, the hands off “druid” or the GPS collar investigator. It’s the bureaucrat who ok’s another development in critical habitat, it’s the government that builds a wall to keep out people, it’s the sprawl of subdivisions where there used to be open range. If we can’t get our shit together and figure out a way to conserve the jaguar in the US, then we get what we deserve: a landscape without cojones, without teeth, without a soul.  Ok, uh, yes, here’s the article from the AZ Star:

Feds agree to look at jaguar’s capture

Fish and Wildlife promises to investigate ‘all aspects of the incident’ involving Macho B
By Tony Davis and Tim Steller
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.03.2009
he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will open a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the capture and euthanization of the jaguar Macho B, service officials said Thursday.
The federal agency, legally responsible for protecting endangered species such as the jaguar, said it would look into “all aspects of the incident” involving Macho B’s capture and death. It said the decision to investigate — previously sought by a congressman and two environmental groups — was based on “new information received in the last 48 hours that called into question the circumstances of the initial capture.”
The announcement came after the Arizona Daily Star published an article raising the possibility that the Feb. 18 capture of Macho B was deliberate and not accidental, as State Game and Fish officials had said. In an interview, Janay Brun, a field technician for a non-profit jaguar research group, said she was told on Feb. 4 by a biologist for the group, Emil McCain, to place female jaguar scat at the snare trap site where Macho B was later captured. McCain has denied Brun’s allegation.
A service spokesman said “I can’t say that it is one specific thing” that triggered the investigation.
“It is the circumstances around the trapping of the jaguar in general,” said spokesman Jose Viramontes in Albuquerque.
The federal investigation had been sought by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, of Tucson, and environmental groups the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife. The center and Grijalva said that they didn’t want the Game and Fish Department to investigate itself.
In a letter to the service this week, Grijalva asked for a probe into:
• Whether the capture was legal, and whether it was intentional or unintentional.
• The status of state and scientist guidelines for capturing and handling jaguars, and how Game and Fish and the contractors carried out the protocol.
• Factors leading to the jaguar’s recapture on March 2, the recapture itself and its propriety.
• Macho B’s health before its euthanization and whether the animal should have gotten more time before being euthanized.
• Why a more thorough autopsy was not performed, instead of what was called a cosmetic necropsy that was designed to preserve the jaguar’s hide so it could be used for scientific, educational or religious purposes.
• The Fish and Wildlife Service’s involvement in decision-making in the capture and death.
Viramontes would not comment on what items will be covered in the federal investigation.
The service’s entry into this case came two days after Game and Fish announced it was investigating Macho B’s capture — also based on unstated “new information.”
On Thursday, the state agency said it welcomes the federal investigation and will fully cooperate with it. On Wednesday, Game and Fish said the state investigation would be led by the Arizona Attorney General’s office. The service said Thursday that it would investigate in concert with the Attorney General.
“We will not speculate on its outcome,” Game and Fish said in a statement. “In the event this investigation reveals any inappropriate conduct or actions, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and department will take appropriate measures. The Department and commission did not authorize or condone the intentional initial capture of this jaguar.”
In an interview, Brun was pleased at the service’s decision to investigate.
“I think that there is responsibility that needs to be taken for mistakes that were made, if any were made. I think there was a lot that seems to have been left out and a lot that wasn’t done by the book. I think it is fantastic that they are investigating so hopefully something like this won’t happen again,” said Brun, an Arivaca resident who is out of state on family matters.
Bob Hernbrode, the Tucsonan who chairs the Game and Fish Commission, declined to comment in detail because of the ongoing investigations.
“I’m not going to make any judgments till we hear from the investigation,” he said.
He noted that he initially defended the commission at a press briefing held by state and federal officials in Tucson, three days after the jaguar’s death. But that was before information emerged suggesting the capture of the jaguar was intentional.
“This stuff is as painful to me as it is to anyone. I guarantee you we will follow through whatever happens,” he said.

2 Responses to “Feds to investigate Macho B saga”

  1. jaguarhabitatusa Says:

    Hi Bill,

    It will be tough, if not impossible, for conservationists to collaborate in the future with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on jaguar conservation and other issues unless it comes clean on the events surrounding Macho B’s death. You cannot ignore bad blood, and expect everyone to work together (should AZGFD get serious about jaguar conservation after this tragic wake up call).

    Check out my open letter to Larry Voyles, head of the Department.

    Always hopeful,

    Dr. Tony Povilitis

  2. swjags Says:

    Hi Tony- I totally agree that transparency and openness in the Macho B case is imperative from both AZGF and the USFWS. I’d wish for a mending of fences and a lack of paranoia from non-Jag Team members. If old grudges and slights are all that are discussed, I fear we will be accused (and rightly so) of fiddling while Rome burned. As your letter points out, there are a number of topics to move the process forward.
    I, too, remain hopeful.

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