Whistling for the Jaguar

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

One last thing…

USFWS special agent: One last thing about the memo (authorizing the capture and collaring of a jaguar), was it shared at all with Fish and Wildlife Service at that time or afterwards or maybe even discussed?

AZGFD Endangered Species Coordinator, Terry Johnson: I never gave a copy to anybody, never sent a copy, never did anything.

So the authorization was never finalized according to Johnson. He stated there was no reason to have a decision package to capture a jaguar because of Macho B’s old age and because no other jaguar was then known to exist in AZ. He also explained a decision package would outline the details why a capture of a jaguar was requested to the USFWS by AZGFD. Furthermore, Johnson explained “that memo is being structured as something that is going to be signed hopefully by Larry Voyles, at some point, but the memo itself is not a decision. That’s not what I mean. There’s another important step…before I ever asked the Director to sign that memo, there had to be a briefing of the Regional Director of USFWS and the briefing of New Mexico Game and Fish Director, just as courtesy.” Regarding the memo, Johnson states, ” I wanted the capture memo to be accurate, based on everything that we knew at the time, and what we knew at the time was a jaguar (Macho B) had been in that area, which can come across a lot of different ways.”

In regard to the email Johnson sent to various AZGFD employees, as well as, BJDP biologist & AZGFD sub-contractor McCain and BJDP founder Childs, Johnson said he was keeping them apprised of what he was working on for the JAGCT and that the first portion of the email referencing a dunning letter was to give everybody hope that money could be coming to fund jaguar work (there was a $50 million “pot of gold” up for grabs in the form of a Department of Homeland Security mitigation fund set up to offset the effects of border infrastructure on many things including endangered species. It is my understanding that Childs and Thompson have become the recipients of some of that gold as members of the new University of Arizona Jaguar Study).  According to Johnson, “that message does not represent in any way, shape or form a discussion between me and those guys about capturing a jaguar.”

And yet, Macho B was captured. AZGFD Director Voyles knew it was a possibility from his meeting with Johnson on Dec. 4, 2008 and from reading Johnson’s draft of the authorization which in the first paragraph on p. 2 states, “Recent occurrence of a jaguar in southern AZ, in an area in which mountain lions are being captured by AGFD via foot snares, makes inadvertent capture of a jaguar this winter a reasonable possibility.”  Johnson is referring to Macho B;  he knows it, Voyles know it. But, if Macho B is not, according to them, a viable candidate for capture, why did Voyles or Johnson not reach out to the snaring team to ensure that they knew this? As a courtesy, why did they not inform USFWS of the possibility of snaring Macho B during the AZGFD snaring study? And since Johnson was unaware of McCain’s involvement in the snaring project until Jan. 2009, why did he not reach out to BJDP as a courtesy or attempt to hook BJDP up with the snaring project so Macho B’s latest detections could be shared in order to prevent or eliminate snares in the areas he was detected?  Voyles and Johnson each had the knowledge and opportunity to prevent snares being placed and/or activated in Macho B’s territory. They chose not to.

USFWS special agent: Do you think that given all the knowledge that collectively Game and Fish had…you probably should have better prudence in the fact that it’s an old animal. If you do catch it, it might have problems.

Johnson: But I don’t understand how anybody, knowing what’s out there, if it’s factual and assuming it’s factual, can say that this agency doesn’t have responsibility for the capture of Macho B. What I know is this. I didn’t…nobody at a leadership level in this agency got the information they should have gotten…

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