The Investigation: BJDP
Jack Childs was one of the founders of Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project (BJDP) and was the primary permittee on BJDP’s Endangered Species permit with USFWS. Childs was McCain and I’s boss. We were the only employees of BJDP but Childs never listed us as permittees on the USFWS permit. Thus, we were never authorized to conduct jaguar research for BJDP. Childs also didn’t alert USFWS that jaguar scat was being used on his project though he had full knowledge of its use at BJDP camera sites. BJDP’s permit was specific as to who was authorized to work on the project and which methods could be used. According to USFWS, “Any deviance from the terms of the permit is considered a violation of the permit conditions.” In addition, if BJDP and the AZGFD snaring project were “interfaced” then permits for both entities would have to be modified. Since AZGFD was using McCain, the biologist for BJDP, on their snaring project, and implementing snaring strategies based on BJDP’s data the two projects were very much interfaced. In addition, McCain had been given a GPS collar specifically to be used on a captured jaguar and that was the collar AZGFD placed around Macho B’s neck. Neither BJDP or AZGFD modified their permits so they were both in violation of their ESA permits.
Because Childs did not attempt to modify BJDP’s Endangered Species permit with regard to the placement of scat at BJDP camera sites, he left every person, including himself, whom had ever placed scat or was present when it occurred vulnerable to being charged with the “take” or “conspiracy to take” violation of the Endangered Species Act. Under the ESA “take” is defined as: to harass, harm, pursue, hurt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct. McCain was charged with the “take” violation of the ESA and so was I, but I got the added bonus of also being charged with “conspiracy to take.” So the USFWS must believe that jaguar scat used as a scent lure alters jaguar behavior and meets the “harass” condition under the “take” violation. Yet, Childs was never charged with an ESA violation or penalized for breaking the terms of his ESA permit.
Childs and McCain also failed to report their use of jaguar scat under “Research Methods” in their report on jaguars of the southwest published in the Journal of Mammalogy.