Whistling for the Jaguar

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

cameras, scat and snares: p.2

Part Two:

I made a lot of mistakes on February 4.

First, I wasn’t worried about scat because I believed that it acted as a deterrent to Macho B not an attractant. This was based on my experience with scat and Macho B. It was absolutely arrogant and ignorant of me to extrapolate that limited experience and turn it into an absolute.

Next, even though I questioned McCain, I did not keep after him, forcing him and Smith to really consider what it was they were attempting; snaring, drugging, and stressing an animal that was at least fifteen years in age. One of McCain’s friends called me a “fucking coward” because I didn’t do anything to stop the snares from being opened if I had a problem with it. He is right.

Thirdly, I believed McCain when he said there were permits for everything. This was understood to include the scat and its placement at the camera within feet of a snare, essentially baiting both, and the opening of the snares with the knowledge that Macho B was in the area. This should be a lesson to anyone working in the conservation field whether you are at the low end of the totem pole like I was, or at the very top; know, understand, and get copies of all permits, especially if you are working with an endangered species (also read and understand the Endangered Species Act). I had no idea I wasn’t on BJDP’s permit to be doing camera work, that Childs and McCain never got a permit to use jaguar scat on the study, nor did I know there was a difference between incidental and intentional permits. I trusted McCain and did not believe he would ever ask me to do something or involve me in something that wasn’t legally above board. I wasn’t even thinking in legal terms. Why would McCain do anything to jeopardize his career and his ambition to be the “jaguar guy” of the southwest and why would Smith do the same? I didn’t even know Smith as I had only met him briefly once before.

Also, I didn’t follow my heart. I did not want Macho B to be snared nor did I want to be apart of snaring any animal as McCain knew when I turned down his offer to try and get me involved in the snaring project. When I realized the snare was being opened I should have fought for Macho B and then I should have left. I should not have followed McCain’s directive of placing scat out anywhere no matter that I was told it was covered under permits. No matter what I believed about scat, I should not have taken any chances. If there was ever a time to tell a boss to “fuck off” this was it. But, I stayed formulating a plan to remember where all the snares were so that I could come back everyday to set the snares off (more snares were added after this day which I was unaware of). This plan changed when we picked up Macho B’s photo at the third camera site. It was taken just a few weeks prior which meant Macho B would be out of the area for awhile (based on camera data) and since Smith had already answered my question about how long the snares would be opened, two weeks, I thought Macho B was safe. Again, I was arrogant in trying to predict the unpredictable. No matter what the data shows, when it deals with life and individuals nothing is constant, there is always change.

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2 thoughts on “cameras, scat and snares: p.2

  1. Ari on said:

    Wow, that says a lot. In my unfamiliarity with snares, I wonder exactly what it means to “set the snares off.” I read that last paragraph a few times to make sure I understood what the plan you were formulating intended. Thanks for sharing all that, Janay.

  2. Ari, Good point. I shall do a post about snaring. Short version, there was a hole dug a few inches below the ground where a pressure plate rests. When pressure is applied, like through a foot, it triggers the attached throwing mechanism that would then “throw” the metal cable around the foot snaring an animal. So my plan was to just set the snares off by pressing the pressure plate with a stick, snaring the stick.

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