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For Immediate Release, April 1, 2009

Contact: Kieran Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Federal Investigation of Jaguar Capture Needed;
Arizona Game and Fish Department Announcement of
"Investigation" Is Too Little, Too Late

Conflicted Agency Should Be Focus of Investigation, Not Investigator

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Arizona Game and Fish Department Tuesday announced it is launching an investigation into the February 18, 2009, capture of Macho B, the now-deceased, last known jaguar in the United States. The Center for Biological Diversity opposes the state investigation on conflict-of-interest grounds and today called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law-enforcement division to conduct the investigation.

Separately, Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) today also questioned the ability of Arizona Game and Fish to conduct a fair and complete investigation and called upon the Fish and Wildlife Service to do it instead.

“Arizona Game and Fish captured the jaguar and approved his killing in the first place,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It has a severe conflict of interest; it can’t fairly investigate itself.

“Arizona Game and Fish spent the past month aggressively defending the capture and killing of Macho B while disparaging scientists and conservationists who dared to ask critical questions. It refused to publicly release independent lab results that contradicted its rational for euthanizing Macho B. It has refused to supply internal records under the Public Records Act. And it ordered a flawed ‘cosmetic’ necropsy, destroying valuable evidence.

“Arizona Game and Fish’s defensive, spin-control posture in this fiasco has compromised its claim to objectivity. Any conclusions it draws from an ‘investigation’ at this point are not likely to be accepted by a justifiably skeptical public.

“The jaguar is an endangered species subject to federal control. If its capture was illegal, it was a criminal violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. The investigation should be carried out by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement. Arizona Game and Fish should be the subject of the investigation, not its leader.”

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