Whistling for the Jaguar

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

Re: Capture and Collar Memo

On 12-5-08 an email was authored by former AZGFD Endangered Species Coordinator (for Mexican Gray Wolves and Jaguar), Terry Johnson. The recipients of the email were: Tim Snow (AZGFD and member of Jaguar Conservation Team; JAGCT), Bill van Pelt (AZGFD, JAGCT), Ron Thompson (AZGFD), Jack Childs (BJDP, JAGCT), and Emil McCain (AZGFD sub-contractor, BJDP, JAGCT). In the email, Johnson tells the recipients he has spoken with AZGFD Director, Larry Voyles, the previous day about Macho B and that he is, “putting the final touches on an authorization to capture and collar memo.”

All AZGFD employees interviewed during AZGFD’s administrative investigation into the snaring and death of Macho B were granted the Garrity Warning, immunity from prosecution. During Mr. Johnson’s Garrity interview (available under blog roll) he spoke about meeting AZGFD Director Voyles for a yearly briefing about wolves and the jaguar and they had discussed Macho B being too old for capture (capture of a jaguar had been recommended by JAGCT in 2006). Yet, here was an email specifically referencing Macho B and an authorization to capture and collar him. Mr. Johnson later told the USFWS special agents that the authorization to capture and collar memo was part of his to do list in regards to his jaguar responsibilities. He said a “decision package” about the authorization memo never occurred nor the briefing with the Governor. Johnson again stated that he and Voyles had decided Macho B was not a viable candidate for capture because of his age (by his estimation to be 13-15 years) and that he had to figure out a way to break that to Childs and McCain, the biggest cheerleaders for doing so.  Mr. Johnson stated he never got the chance to tell Childs and McCain about Macho B because he was waiting until the JAGCT meeting in February. But, at that point it was too late because Childs approached Johnson before the meeting to inform him that Macho B had been snared and collared the day before.

According to Voyles: Johnson came to him when the lion/bear study was not active in Nov. or Dec. 2008, and stated there was a possibility that a jaguar might be captured during the study. Johnson expressed a desire to have the capability to collar a jaguar should one get caught in a snare and wanted to work with the USFWS to be allowed to collar it. The conversation was intended to be prepared for an inadvertent capture and not intended for the pursuit of a jaguar capture. Voyles also thought discussions about capturing a jaguar also occurred between USFWS and AZGFD after his meeting with Johnson.

For the record, when anyone refers to a “jaguar” in AZ they are really referring to Macho B. He was the only jaguar to be documented in southern AZ from 2004 until his death in 2009.

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