Whistling for the Jaguar

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

The Investigation: Terry Johnson, part 3

During his October 2010 interview with the USFWS SAs Johnson said, in regard to finding out about Macho B’s capture right before the Jaguar Conservation Team (JAGCT) meeting when he was to announce Macho B was not a suitable candidate for capture: “I have been stabbed in the back by people that I trusted and worked with for years, not just months or days, and that hasn’t changed at all.”

But the day after he learned of the capture, February 20, he sent an email to McCain and Childs that read in part: “I cannot sufficiently express how indebted we all are to you and all your assistants for putting us all in this position… Again, congratulations and many, many thanks!” And two days later in an email to the JAGCT scientific advisory board Johnson wrote: “It is impossible to overstate the extent to which Childs and McCain of the BJDP, the field arm of the JAGCT, made this capture-and-collaring event possible… God bless Jack Childs and Emil McCain. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

Johnson, along with his AZGFD co-worker, Bill Van Pelt, were the designated leads for AZGFD when it came to Macho B after his collaring. Both men allowed McCain to dictate when an in-field observation of Macho B was to take place even though Macho B had barely moved after his first day post-capture. That in-field observation took place 10 days after Macho B’s capture. Macho B would be euthanized two days later.

AZGFD’s admission to any culpability in Macho B’s capture and death has been non-existent in their press releases and internal administrative investigation. But Johnson, in a refreshing statement of directness and honesty, stated the following : “But I don’t understand how anybody… can say that this agency (AZGFD) doesn’t have responsibility for the capture of Macho B. Our employees knew the snares and cameras were being set in that area. Our Research Branch Chief (Chasa O’Brien) was advised on Feb. 15th, 16th, somewhere in there, by an outside individual (Dr. Roberto Aguilar) that her employees were engaged in activities that could result in the capture of a jaguar… But even more importantly than all of that, those snares were closed, and they weren’t reopened until, what, 15th, 16th, somewhere along in there (Macho B was snared on the 18th). McCain wasn’t even in the country when those snares were reopened, and the employees that reopened those snares were employees that knew that jaguars had been in that very area recently and had seen the track (Macho B’s track was found near the snares by McCain on the 5th) in the field. Now is that planned take, or is that we don’t care if we take, because we’re covered for incidental take… There is no way in my mind that a sane person who is employed as an agency biologist could have reopened those snares without an expectation that jaguar was a possible capture there.”

Johnson never takes responsibility for his own actions and inactions. Like most AZGFD and USFWS employees interviewed for the criminal investigation, that were in a position of power to stop the snaring in Macho B’s territory and whom had knowledge that Macho B had recently been in the area of the snares, Johnson utilizes their popular excuse about not “connecting the dots.”

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