Whistling for the Jaguar

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

Day 8: February 25

1. McCain emails Ron Thompson updating him on Macho B and to ask for his, “advice and involvement in any field actions in my absence.” In part McCain writes: ” As you will see from the string of emails below, our cat has not moved as much as we would like to see and there was one point when I began to get pretty worried. He has started moving a little again, but nothing very big at all. I know Bill (vanpelt) and Terry (johnson) have begun to get some negative feedback on the size of the collar etc. and therefore there is a desire to go in and document that he is ok and search a possible kill site. I would like the peace of mind in knowing that he is ok, but I also want to give him the time he needs to fully recover form (sic) the traumatic events of the capture without further bothering him in any way whatsoever… I have known this cat to use this exact area more extensively that (sic) anywhere else in the past, including when he was chased by hounds. Anyway, please read the below emails and give me your thoughts. I do not want to do anything stupid-just to counter a few negative, uneducated voices from the public… But if you feel that we should go in and try to get a visual on him and maybe search some of the bedding sites, please let me know. I will greatly appreciate your expertise and insight from your long history working with cats and captures and field work…”

Thompson responds: ” Like the Nike commercial says: Just do it. Send your prey mortality sheet and we will hopefully fill it out. Each cat is different, but they all act the same after a capture-they stay localized until they feel they can defend themselves… By the way, (redacted) has put on and taken off about 50 North Star collars and has observed no ill affects (sic) of the collar. I would be happy to assist (redacted). Sounds like you have a plan, so let’s implement it.”

McCain replies: “Thanks for your support… I feel it is a little too soon to go in. He is still only a couple hundred meters away. I just don’t really see what we gain by going in so soon, other than give Bill something to tell the press. Ok (redacted) experiences should be communicated with Bill and Terry. They are getting beaten up by the press and the animal lovers. Second, I do think he is ok, but I would like him to have all the time he needs to move on… What is your thought? Is there any need to go in now, say for a visual? Or should we give him some more time?”

Thompson responds: “Peace of mind is an elusive thing… You have a live critter to learn from. So what are your objectives? If we go in for a visual he will have a 99.9% chance of knowing we are there before we might see him… If you are interested in kill data than the kill site is probably getting older. I use (sic) to keep a telemetry form for sheep and lions that had a column “disturbed by tracker.” As humans we are great at impacting our study animals to the point that their welfare is negatively impacted… You are in this for the long haul and probably through the end of his life span. Everyone needs to accept that. I know your information will lead to other jaguars. He just has to live long enough to let you discover them. Learn all you can from him that you can. Do it at his biological pace and to hell with all those who sit in their ivory towers…”

McCain replies: “Your words are well received. Please stand by until he moves out a little.”

2. I email McCain to let him know Childs will be helping me with the map technology in order to locate the Patagonia lion’s kill sites. I ask: “Whom am I working for when I check the kills; BJDP or AZGFD? Is there compensation for mileage, time? Am I to fill out the form you just sent at each kill? Some of those kill sites are months old…” I end the email with, “How is Mr. B?”

McCain replies: “… Ultimately, this diet study is part of BJDP. Keep your time and mileage as usual. Even though this is looking at puma kills, it is training for the jaguar monitoring… Mr. B is still laying low. He may have had a kill already, but he is still not moving too far… Will keep you posted.”

3. McCain emails Blake Henke of North Star: “… I am glad you understood my concern and I am glad to hear you too are keeping an eye on this cat. We are still a little concerned with the generally small movements so far. Especially for this cat, which we have documented traversing over 20 miles in a night… I prefer not to bother him until there is an obvious reason. Thanks for the clarification on the gaps in locations…”

4. Vanpelt emails McCain for an update: ” I have not heard from you regarding Macho B so hopefully things are going okay. I saw (redacted) earlier and he said he had spoken with you and you had told him Macho B was in the same area. We are going to hold off going in to the area until next week. Need to make sure we have all the equipment (satellite phone, other collar etc.). If you could please send me an update so I can feed the rest of the chain I would appreciate it.”

McCain replies: “Today there has not been much action from Macho B. He has been held up again in the same spot for the last 24 hrs. I just spoke with Ron Thompson as he has had considerable experience with cats, especially mountain lions, that have been snared, immobilized, collared and then monitored. Ron’s experience, and that of his close colleagues, is as good as it gets on this subject. His impression, and I totally agree, is that these cats will hold up for some time after a snare capture when they have a sore foot. They will not move on until that foot feels good enough to travel. The fact that Macho B has made several 100-200 meter moves… means he is doing fine… Regardless, Ron assures me that 7-9 days in the same spot is not a big deal for a large carnivore and nothing to raise major concern… After speaking with Ron and thinking back on the behavior of several lions I have collared, I strongly believe we should give him his time and not bother him… We will not do him any good to bother him there, and I don’t quite understand what our objectives would be that could justify further harassing him…”

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