For Immediate Release, March 2, 2009
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
First Wild U.S. Radio-collared Jaguar Dies;
Unclear Whether Capture Contributed to His Death
TUCSON, Ariz.— A wild jaguar captured by the Arizona Game and Fish Department on February 18 and outfitted with a radio collar was recaptured and euthanized Monday after being found ailing as a result of kidney failure.
Presuming that the jaguar had a weak kidney prior to capture, it’s unknown whether the stress of capture and sedation caused the weak kidney to fail. At an estimated 15 to 16 years old, the 118-pound male animal dubbed “Macho B” was the oldest known jaguar in the wild.
Macho B was the only jaguar known to be living in the United States; he had been photographed repeatedly since 1996 in southern Arizona. Three other jaguars, at least one of them thought to have been killed in Mexico, have also been recorded in the United States since 1996, but none are known to be living now.
“This is a major setback for the jaguar, particularly given that the border wall is making it much harder for jaguars to reoccupy their ancestral homes in the southern United States,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We are deeply saddened.”
“Macho’s legacy should be action to develop a science-based recovery plan and protection of the areas they call home to ensure their survival,” he added.
The Center for Biological Diversity will be in federal district court in Tucson, Arizona on March 23 in its lawsuit against a Bush-era U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refusal to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for the jaguar.
A recovery plan would lay out the information needed for jaguar recovery, the least intrusive means of getting that data, and the means by which the population of jaguars would be increased and secured.
“We support research to understand the jaguar’s ecology, including capturing animals when necessary,” Robinson said. “But it does entail risk, and with the Bush administration’s refusal to develop a recovery plan and protect critical habitat for the jaguar, it is unclear how the information will be used to benefit the jaguar.”
Robinson added: “An overarching recovery plan would serve as a roadmap for a time when jaguars are far more resilient to the loss of a single animal than they are today.”
Jaguars once ranged from the Bay Area of California to the Appalachian Mountains.
The Jaguar Conservation Team’s scientific advisory group has stated that every single jaguar in the northern portion of the species’ remaining range is important, given the jaguar’s rarity.