Whistling for the Jaguar

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

The Merge

When McCain was hired for the AZGFD project in October 2008 Macho B had not been photographed by BJDP since July 25, 2007 and his tracks had last been documented October 30, 2007. Both documentations occurred between thirty and forty miles north of the border. McCain and I wondered if he had died while Childs reminded us that Macho B had been absent for long periods before.

Sometime around McCain’s hiring into AZGFD he asked me about good camera sites in the Patagonia and Atascosa Mountains for documenting lions and bears (I was responsible for maintaining BJDP’s photolog). He was figuring out which areas to target for the snaring project. ¬†I gave him a few options in both areas and he threw out one more in the Atascosa range. He specifically wanted to target Penasco Canyon in hopes of snaring a new jaguar that might come in to take over Macho B’s territory if he was truly dead (Penasco had a history of jaguar usage). McCain then offered to try and get me involved with the AZGFD snaring project. I declined.

The snaring began in the Patagonia Mountains. McCain was responsible for choosing the snare sites, activating and monitoring the snares and the handling and collaring of any animals trapped. Some of the snaring equipment belonged to AZGFD and some belonged to McCain. He choose several sites in close proximity to BJDP cameras and several at the exact spot where cameras were located. Despite McCain and Childs telling the USFWS special agents that BJDP was not working with AZGFD on the snaring project, in my opinion, the moment a snare was placed anywhere near a BJDP camera site the projects merged. AZGFD was depending on BJDP’s camera data and their biologist for information that guided where their research study was going to take place. If the projects were truly separate then AZGFD would have done their own camera monitoring to determine the most productive snare sites for the objectives of their study. Even Kirby Bristow (lead AZGFD field biologist for snaring project) referred to BJDP as a “cooperator” on the lion and bear study. He stated further that “McCain was given access to study lion/bear collar data and AZGFD wanted to use BJDP data and game camera photos for the study.”

Smith and McCain snared several animals in the Patagonias and then the snares were de-activated (snares remained in situ in the field but were decommissioned so an animal could not be caught). McCain then moved over to the Atascosas, and with the help of his father, activated four snares; three in Penasco Canyon. They snared a young, female lion at the lone snare in another canyon right at a BJDP camera site. They ran the snares in the Atascosas through the first week of November.

On November 10, I and another volunteer went to check BJDP camera sites a few miles north of the snaring area and picked up the first picture of Macho B taken in over a year. He had been photographed in the area August 2. Two days later McCain and his father picked up another photo of Macho B several miles north in the Tumacacori Mountains. That photo was dated July 29. In 2006, Macho B had been documented traveling from an area south of the snare sites to this camera site in the T-cocks in twenty-four hours.

Now it was confirmed: Macho B was alive and had recently roamed in the BJDP and AZGFD’s study areas.

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