Whistling for the Jaguar

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

Scent Lures

Part One:

McCain joined BJDP in 2004.  Sometime between 2004-2005 McCain started using female jaguar scat, obtained from the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, as a scent lure to be placed in front of the  BJDP cameras in hopes it would lure a jaguar in to be photographed. I found out while preparing for my trial that neither McCain or Childs obtained a permit for the use of scat or attempted to amend BJDP’s endangered species permit to include the use of scat as a scent lure. According to several USFWS employees, this was a violation of BJDP’s permit and could technically constitute a “take” violation of the Endangered Species Act.  Macho A and Macho B were both photographed in this time period but both had been documented previously; before McCain and before scat. Unfortunately a field log was not consistently kept so it was never determined when and where scat had been placed in relation to any jaguar documentations.

I began working with McCain in January 2006. At that time the only scent lure used was a skunk based one. At this point Macho A had not been documented in close to two years but Macho B was hanging around in the southern portion of his territory close to and on the US-MX border. Macho B was documented down south through May and then he moved forty miles north to the area where I had just set a camera (and the area where my dogs and I first encountered Macho B in 1999). Macho B was documented here from September 2006 to early April 2007 on a consistent basis. The cameras captured him monthly, sometimes 2-3 times a month. He was also captured on film and video marking his territory for the first time. No scat of any kind was used up to this point.

Then on April 16, 2007 McCain and I went to this area to set a new camera and he brought what he said was jaguar scat leftover from when he had used it years previously. It had been stored in a plastic tub in the freezer which apparently preserved it. The new camera site was down the trail a couple hundred yards from the original camera site I had set.  The last time we checked cameras here we had observed claw scratches on a mesquite tree at this new site, and I had found a scrape at the tree’s base that winter.  We set the new camera up and McCain dumped the scat at the base of the tree. Scat would not be used again at BJDP camera sites until the following year in December.

Five days later Macho B was back in the area for his monthly visit. He was documented first at the original camera site on April 21. The next day he was photographed at another camera site I had set at the beginning of the trail roughly 3/4 mile away and then he was back at the original camera site on April 25 (both cameras had documented him before). The camera where the scat had been placed wasn’t working as McCain found out on April 28 when he returned to the area with a reporter. Nevertheless, Macho B disappeared from this area that he had been consistently using for the past eight months. He wasn’t documented here again until July 25. His picture and video were taken at the mesquite tree where the scat had been placed over three months prior. His picture was captured first and showed him sprawled against the mesquite. Next the video kicked in and documented him scratching the tree then jumping down to the ground, then sniffing the possible remnants of the scat, and then going back to the tree snag where I had poured the skunk based lure two weeks prior and rubbing his cheeks. These were the last images captured of Macho B in this portion of his territory. His tracks were  found one more time in this area over a year later in December 2008. Scat, it seemed, was not an attractant scent lure for Macho B, but rather a deterrent.

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