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For Immediate Release, June 18, 2010

Contact:  Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Feds Issue Permit to "Take" Jaguar and Ocelot:
Arizona Game Department Allowed to Kill More Endangered Felines

TUCSON, Ariz.—  The Center for Biological Diversity has learned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit on June 14 to the Arizona Game and Fish Department allowing the state agency to “take” jaguars and ocelots, which can include killing, injuring or otherwise harming the rare felines. The permit was issued 15 months after Arizona Game and Fish killed the last known jaguar in the United States, an animal called Macho B.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is legalizing what an Arizona Game and Fish contractor did illegally in 2009,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “Both agencies are back to denying science and pretending that jaguars and ocelots are disposable.”

The new permit, issued June 14, authorizes intentional capture of both a jaguar and an ocelot to affix a radio collar, as well as unintentional take of both species in the course of seeking to capture other animals. The permit requires submission of plans to minimize the likelihood that jaguars or ocelots will be injured or killed. The plan for intentional take must be reviewed by the respective recovery teams for each species; a jaguar recovery team has not yet been appointed but will be as a result of a Center lawsuit. But in planning for the possibility of an unintentional jaguar capture, the Jaguar Conservation Team — an interagency group chaired by Arizona Game and Fish — could approve standards even before a recovery team is appointed.

“The Jaguar Conservation Team served as a cheerleader for capture of jaguars before Macho B’s sad and unnecessary death,” said Robinson. “It would be a mistake to let this group watchdog Arizona Game and Fish.”

In September 2009, the Center sued Game and Fish based on the threat of future unpermitted jaguar captures. Despite this suit and an investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general that found the state agency lacked the necessary permits to capture jaguars, the agency has maintained that it does not need a permit to take additional jaguars. This untenable position is now superseded by issuance of the new permit.

“Jaguars and ocelots help maintain the balance of southwestern wildlands,” said Robinson. “These beautiful and very rare animals deserve much more consideration and protection from the federal and state agencies that should be their guardians.”

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