Whistling for the Jaguar

The un-redacted story of the jaguar, Macho B's snaring and death.

Canine Tooth

The AZGFD technicians, Thorry Smith and Michelle Crabb, whom collared Macho B noticed bleeding from his mouth and that his top, left canine was broken when they initially assessed his condition. They could not determine if the tooth broke during the capture because of all the cuts in Macho B’s mouth from fighting the snare.  The tooth looked stained and worn and they determined it did not break while he was snared.  They also searched the capture area and could not find the broken tooth.

In Macho B’s necropsy report it states: Upper left canine completely fractured into multiple pieces down to the gum line with the root canal exposed, appears to be several days old at least based on appearance and lack of fresh blood but not more than several weeks old based on lack of significant infection or presence of foreign material around fractured pieces.

In preparation for the “possibility” of capturing a jaguar during the course of the federally funded, AZGFD lion and bear snaring project (in which Macho B was captured), AZGFD technician, Smith, had obtained a copy of The Jaguar Health Program Manual written by Drs. Sharon Deem and William Karesh.  In the manual it states: Treatment of broken teeth:  It is imperative that a fractured tooth (most commonly a canine is broken during jaguar captures and immobilizations) be repaired to minimize pain and infection associated with the tooth.  A calcium hydroxide product (i.e., Dycal) can be used to cap the tooth pulp.

I have no idea why it seems acceptable for a jaguar, or any other animal, to sacrifice a canine tooth (used to grab and kill prey) in exchange for a collar to be wrapped around it’s neck.  Smith was also told of the possibility of a canine breaking if a jaguar was snared by his co-worker on the project, Emil McCain.  I was present when McCain told Smith to make sure he had a tooth repair kit.

When the investigation began into Macho B’s snaring and death the USFWS Special Agents in charge of the investigation returned to the capture site and located a tooth fragment.  The fragment was analyzed and determined to be the broken canine of Macho B.  It was also noted that all four of Macho B’s canine teeth, “exhibited longitudinal streaks of a silver metallic substance.”  My guess would be that the metallic substance was from the metal cable (the snare) that was wrapped around Macho B’s front, left paw for an unknown amount of time.

Macho B would have required dental surgery to repair the tooth and been given a steady dose of antibiotics to ward off infection if he was able to be released back into the wild.  His tooth was one of the deciding factors for euthanizing him and listed as a reason for his declining health.

Below is a picture taken of Macho B’s broken canine during his necropsy at the Phoenix Zoo.

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