State's capture of jaguar Macho B was intentional, federal investigators conclude

2010-01-21T16:05:00Z State's capture of jaguar Macho B was intentional, federal investigators concludeBy Tony Davis and Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The capture of Macho B, the last known wild jaguar in the United States, was intentional, according to a new investigative report by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.

The report says Arizona Game and Fish Department employees meant to capture the jaguar Macho B on Feb. 18 last year, citing evidence gathered as part of an ongoing federal criminal investigation.

The Inspector General investigators reviewed the material gathered by criminal investigators of the Fish and Wildlife Service and concluded there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing by an Arizona Game and Fish employee and an Arizona Game and Fish subcontractor. The document doesn't name them.

That conclusion is important because the game and fish department originally called the capture unintentional and because such "taking" of an endangered species may be a crime under the endangered species act.

The report also concludes that Arizona Game and Fish was aware that Macho B was near a site where department employees were trapping animals in December 2008 and January 2009 and failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service about the jaguar’s presence, as required by federal law.

Finally, the report concludes that a Fish and Wildlife Service supervisor wrongly approved a cosmetic necropsy for the jaguar, instead of a complete necropsy “because he did not know the difference between the two procedures.” That decision meant there ended up being doubt about the cause of the jaguar’s death, the report says.

Ten days after the jaguar's initial capture, officials recaptured Macho B on March 2, 2009, because he was showing signs of decline. Government officials and veterinarians at the Phoenix Zoo concluded the jaguar should be euthanized.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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