Whistling for the Jaguar

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

Day 5: February 22

1. Dr. Aguilar emails a redacted someone in part: ” My understanding behind the capturing of Macho B was that it was incidental… They were ready in case it happened, since Thorry has been trapping exactly where Macho B tends to hang out. Lo and behold, the cat fell in the trap and was apparently (fortunately) ok.”

2. McCain emails Aguilar: “We need to talk. I am concerned about how much you are saying to folks. We are being accused of trying to catch him and I need you to be clear on a few things. You know that these back stabbers will contort any and everything and use it against us. I need you to be cautious of this. The truth is that he was captured in an area where we had never photographed him before. And we CAN NOT say who was trapping or that they were trapping where any jaguar was known to have ever been…”

And in a follow-up email to Aguilar, McCain continues: ” This is a very delicate situation right now. I need you to be on board with me… They are emphasizing the facts that we had already collared 8 bears and 3 lions along the border. One of our pumas was legally harvested and we were trapping in that mountain range again to replace that collar… Yes, we were prepared, because anywhere in southern AZ cold (sic) produce a jaguar at anytime… You were and are an important part of the capture team here, and we need to collaborate our stories. Ok?”

Aguilar responds: “Of course. So far the only information I have given out, when asked directly has been the official story as I read it on the AZGFD website and in the news. I know nothing else. (Redacted) wanted details and I told (redacted) nobody in their right minds would noose a jaguar-too dangerous… That’s it. I follow the official news item as a script…”

And in a follow-up email to McCain, Aguilar continues, ” You don’t understand. Any information I gather goes directly to you… And you know who has been copied in on anything I say or do…”

McCain responds: “Ok Good. Glad we are all on the same page. I just got super nervous when I saw that you said that Thorry was trapping exactly where Macho B had been followed. The truth is he was never photographed there. That kind of thinking is exactly what we want to avoid. Glad you are keeping your ears open in all circles and reporting back to me… I have heard very little news here lately, but have been giving my AZGFD official contacts a daily report… Lastly, our cat is still hanging in a fairly small area that is very secluded… He is now slowly, but surely working his way up a ridge system…”

3. McCain receives an email from a friend that runs a non-profit that allowed BJDP to have non-profit status under them. McCain had informed the redacted person about Macho B’s capture and collaring and had asked that they didn’t distribute the capture photos he had attached. This redacted person writes in part: ” I am actually curious as of why. The capture appears to have gone successful… Is the worry that it might get out into the hands of someone who might be animately against live captures, or did the AZGFD did not have the proper fed permits to catch a T&E cat?…”

McCain responds: “The answer is a little of both. There is currently almost entirely great press covering the capture, but there are some local NGO groups that are trying to cut our throats. I definitely do not want those photos to somehow end up in their hands. The capture issue has been very controversial for a long time. We had permission to collar if the chance ever came up, but we never had a jaguar specific trapping permit…It was an incidental catch and all the permits were in place to take full advantage of the situation… You and (redacted) will probably be happy to know that we (BJDP-IERC) remain in complete control of these (sic) data… AZGFD and USFWS have been very firm that we will retain full ownership of the data as long as there is open and frequent communication with them…”

4. Terry Johnson sends out the “Confidential” email to the JAGCT scientific advisory board alerting them to Macho B’s capture and asking for their advice/comments on his final draft of the jaguar Conservation Assessment. He also states: “It is impossible to overstate the extent to which Jack Childs and Emil McCain of the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, the field arm of the Jaguar Conservation Team, made this capture-and-collaring event possible… Lots of folks have ready reasons why something should not be tried or will not work. Jack and Emil are always ready and willing to pioneer and are always wonderfully focused on minimizing the attendant risks.”

5. That night Johnson emails McCain: “Any news for the update I need to get out tonight?” McCain responds: “Sorry to keep you waiting. I have been holding off until night fall, in hopes that a movement would take place. He is steadily working his way up a rugged ridge system. The last point… he had moved several hundred meters from his day bed. He has gain (sic) substantial elevation as well…”

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