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For Immediate Release: March 9, 2009

Contact: Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017

Center for Biological Diversity Calls for
Independent Medical Inquiry Into Death of Jaguar

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity Friday sent a request letter calling for an independent medical inquiry into the death of Macho B, the last known jaguar in the United States. The rare cat was killed after twice being captured and sedated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in an effort to monitor his movements using a radio collar. 

“The circumstances of Macho’s death call for the highest level of inquiry by qualified, independent experts in order to fully understand any lessons to be learned from this tragedy,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Before any other jaguars — if any are still here or migrate in from Mexico — are captured and collared, we must understand what went wrong and why.”

Upon his initial capture, Macho B was reported to be in good health, but within twelve days he was recaptured and euthanized. A necropsy by the Phoenix Zoo attributed Macho B’s death to massive kidney failure, which was likely further stressed by capture and sedation. It is unknown whether Arizona Game and Fish could have utilized additional precautions, given Macho B’s age.

“The initial necropsy has already established that the capturing and sedating of Macho likely further stressed his kidney, contributing to his death,” said Robinson. “What we need to know is if there is anything different that Game and Fish could have done and whether it is safe to capture jaguars given their very small numbers in the United States”

Under the Bush administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to form a recovery team or designate critical habitat for the jaguar. The Center has challenged this decision and will be arguing the case in federal court in Tucson, Arizona on March 23. A recovery team could provide oversight of any future jaguar research and ensure that such research is safe and contributes to the conservation of the rare cats. 

“If the jaguar is again going to roam its ancient homelands in the Southwest and help maintain the balance, we need a scientifically credible body in the form of a recovery team to ensure that the rare cats receive needed protection and care,” said Robinson.

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