Whistling for the Jaguar

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

Thorry Smith, Part 3

The above picture is from the AZGFD website and is Thorry Smith posing with Macho B at his initial capture. Smith was involved in Macho B’s capture and recapture. To read more about his involvement please see this blog’s posts: Capture; Day 1: February 18, 2009; Day 10: Feb. 27; Day 11: Feb. 28; Day 12: March 1; Day 13: March 2.

There is not much to add to those posts except Smith told the USFWS SAs that he didn’t have much experience with the drug used to anesthetize Macho B, Telazol or older animals. But, the USFWS Special Agents ask Smith a question they should have asked every AZGFD and USFWS employee whom was aware Macho B was vulnerable to being snared: “And if you’re being so prepared, and you’re getting ready for this chance… wouldn’t it be the best thing to have a vet there?” And Smith replied: “I agree. That’s not my call. We can’t afford that, and this is the way Game and Fish works. We have no money.”

An additional point would be a reminder, that Smith checked the AZGFD snares until Feb. 11. He then de-activated them to return home. He came back to the snaring area on Feb. 15 and re-activated the snares. Macho B was caught on Feb.18.

Garrity Interviews

Smith was granted immunity, as all AZGFD employees were, when speaking with their employer during the course of their internal administrative investigation. Part of the Garrity Warning reads, “… any responses given during this administrative investigation cannot be used against you in a subsequent criminal investigation.”

Smith starts off by admitting to committing a felony: “Well, I lied to the feds about it (use of jaguar scat). Scared to death. You know, Emil (McCain) and I came up with, this is bad. The department is going to look so bad…” Smith then goes on to admit to conspiring with McCain to protect themselves: “We made a different story to protect the department, to protect Emil, to protect my association with Emil about, you know, not leaving jaguar scat but (inaudible) there was no scat at all placed anywhere…”

Smith acknowledges that: “I realized that he (McCain) had put – when I was with him, he had put scat at the upper two of the south two camera sites that were two and four (actually both are about two) miles away about from any of our snares, and being naive as I was, I thought that was okay. I didn’t question it.”

As for the first snare of the day that also had a camera within feet of it Smith claimed ignorance: “… I was working on the set. They were working on the camera. I turned around. There was a scat in the trail figuring it was one of the lion scats they just put in there to get…” Lion scat was never used on this day or ever by the BJDP at camera sites. Smith also claimed ignorance about scat being placed at the last camera site of the day in Penasco Canyon (where Macho B was snared) and at the actual snare site where Macho B was captured.

Smith apparently didn’t find out about jag scat being placed at the other two camera sites until March 31. This was the day McCain called him to make him aware of my allegations of jaguar scat at camera sites and the snare. Smith supposedly asked McCain: “You guys didn’t put any in the cameras within our snare loop, did you?” And McCain responded, “Yeah, we did.” But McCain denied scat was placed at the snare that became the capture site. Smith claimed McCain put jag scat at the other camera sites behind his back.

So on March 31, Smith and McCain meet and discuss what they’re going to do for hours and come up with a plan to lie about the scat and for McCain to go back to the area; “He went in and cleaned it up, made it look like our story.” Smith just admitted to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

What doesn’t make sense to me is if Smith was truly ignorant of all the places where scat was placed why didn’t he tell McCain to fuck off and then get in touch with his supervisors at AZGFD about what McCain just admitted? Scat a few miles away from the snares was something the AZGFD PR people could work with and Smith’s supervisors could probably give him a pass on. Smith and McCain barely knew each other. Why did Smith choose McCain over his career and later his family as he sat lying to federal investigators, committing a felony with serious monetary fines and jail time attached to the crime?

So Smith never admits to AZGFD his full knowledge about the use of scat at all the camera sites and the snare. I think it’s because he still believed he would retain his job at AZGFD and admitting the full truth would guarantee him being sacked. He even makes a reference in his third Garrity interview (p.8) to a job position he foresees himself occupying in the future. By this time, Smith had retained a lawyer whom might be working on immunity for him with the feds so perhaps he feels legally “safe” and is focusing on keeping his job.

See blogroll for link to Smith’s Garrity transcripts; redacted, of course.

Use Immunity Interview

Smith was interviewed on March 18, 2010 with counsel present at the U.S. Attorneys Office. He admitted to lying to the USFWS Special Agents about the use of scat when cameras were checked and snares opened on Feb. 4, 2009. He continued to maintain that he only found out about the scat at all the camera sites from McCain after Macho B’s capture. Smith also admitted his and McCain’s plan to “clean up” the camera/snaring area of scat. Apparently McCain called him afterwards and said, “We’re good.” Smith never admits to his knowledge of scat being placed at the snare site where Macho B was captured.

With regard to a jaguar capture Smith said, “We (he & McCain) were both hopeful.” Smith thought scat had nothing to do with Macho B’s capture. He had stated the same to AZGFD pointing out that Macho B had come from the north, not passing any camera sites, and the first snare he came to (the one Smith built& activated on his own Feb.5) had no scat and would have captured Macho B if people hadn’t tampered with the snare.

Smith claimed that McCain had tried to contact AZGFD Endangered Species Coordinator, Terry Johnson to tell him that he had a [fabricated] camera log that indicated scat was not used at the camera sites.

In addition, Smith claimed that when he and McCain met on March 31, McCain told him he had informed AZGFD lion&bear biologist, Ron Thompson about the use of jaguar scat and Thompson recommended McCain “deny it.”

Smith said, “It was his and Emil’s word against Janay’s,”  in regards to the placement of jaguar scat at the snare site.

Smith was fired about a week after his “use immunity” interview. I wonder if he had been re-interviewed after losing his job with AZGFD he would have told the whole truth regarding his knowledge of scat placement on Feb.4?

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