Thursday, January 21, 2010

Macho B Capture Intentional

Until I moved to Arizona, I had no idea that jaguars lived in the United States. There are very few, but a limited population moves across the U.S./Mexico border. The most famous of these jaguars was named Macho B. I don't want to get into the entire story of Macho B, but here's the synopsis. The AZ Department of Game and Fish captured the jaguar on February 18, 2009 in a nasty leg snare trap (pictured above). They claimed they were trying to capture bears or mountain lions, which, in my opinion, is still terribly inhumane. They collared and released the cat, but then noticed that it wasn't moving much. Game and Fish then tracked down poor Macho B and brought him to the Phoenix Zoo where it was determined that the cat was sick and he was euthanized. Then the state only ordered a cosmetic necropsy. They claim that the person responsible for this decision chose cosmetic because he didn't know the difference, but word is that the decision was really made to preserve the cat's pelt.

All this is a whole lot of bullshit and apparently the ensuing federal investigation agrees. The Arizona Daily Star reports that federal investigators have determined that Macho B's capture was intentional and that the decision for the cosmetic necropsy was wrongly ordered and casts doubt on the reasons for the cat's death. This should spell trouble for the Game and Fish Department, but I fear it will only be a slap on the wrist. A lot people in the Tucson area are furious over this. Effigies of the jaguar, signs, and candles for him filled the Tucson Dia de los Muertos parade this year.

It's all heartbreaking, really. I watch a lot of nature shows and documentaries on conservation and there's always moments where someone in the past did something atrocious. Wolves exterminated, habitat destroyed, eagles poisoned...the list goes on. As a modern viewer, my reaction is often "How could they?" and I apply a teleological view to conservation that condemns bad decisions as past events sprouted from ignorance. Well, apparently that ignorance is alive and well. Macho B is proof that American mismanagement of wildlife and the catastrophic effects aren't just our grandparents' mistakes, but present concerns for us as well.

More information available here from Tucson Weekly and here at Demarcated Landscapes.

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