For Immediate Release, January 21, 2010
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Department of Interior Inspector General Finds That Capture of
Endangered Jaguar "Macho B" Was Intentional
Setting Snare Violated the Endangered Species Act
TUCSON, Ariz.— Today the Interior Department’s Inspector General office released a report concluding that the last known wild jaguar in the United States, dubbed “Macho B,” who was captured and killed last year in Arizona, had been intentionally caught by employees of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a snare. This directly contradicts statements by the department at the time and implies criminal behavior.
The government’s investigative report also found that the Arizona Game and Fish Department did not have a permit allowing it to purposefully capture a jaguar, which is a federally protected endangered species, nor a permit allowing it to incidentally capture a jaguar while conducting other activities. The state agency had said the jaguar was accidentally caught in a snare set for black bears and mountain lions.
“This report affirms all of the legal claims in our litigation to prevent Arizona Game and Fish from killing another jaguar, and will be critical evidence at trial,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to a September 24, 2009 Center lawsuit, yet to be adjudicated, against the department to prevent the state agency from killing any additional jaguars. The Center’s suit cites the death of Macho B.
The Inspector General report links “an AZGFD subcontractor and possibly an AZGFD employee to criminal wrongdoing in the capture of Macho B.”
“This report makes our very strong case even stronger because it confirms the violations,” Robinson said. “Arizona Game and Fish still maintains that it has the right to capture another jaguar, but the judge will read that the conduct the agency defends has already been found to be illegal.”
The Inspector General report also contradicts other statements made by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, including that the jaguar sustained no injuries at his first capture on February 18, 2009. The report found that a canine tooth was broken off while the animal was in the snare, not prior to the snaring as the department had claimed.
Macho B was recaptured on March 2, 2009 in ill health and euthanized. The Inspector General report states that a “cosmetic” necropsy of the jaguar that was intended to preserve the pelt, undertaken instead of a full necropsy, resulted in loss of information and thus “leaving doubt as to the cause of death.” It identifies the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arizona state office field supervisor, Steve Spangle, as having wrongly approved the skinning of the cat because he was unfamiliar with the word “necropsy,” which means “autopsy” but generally refers to the postmortem examination of an animal’s body and not a human’s.