New details trigger call for federal investigation into jaguar capture

2009-04-02T00:00:00Z New details trigger call for federal investigation into jaguar captureBy Tony Davis and Tim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

New information about the Feb. 18 capture and subsequent death of Macho B has prompted an investigation by Arizona's Attorney General.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva has asked that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also probe the capture, recapture and euthanization of the jaguar. Game and Fish said Wednesday evening — after earlier announcing the state investigation — that the federal agency had agreed to investigate. The federal service had not confirmed that as of press time Wednesday.

Arizona Game and Fish has declined to disclose what information it has received or whether the information is related to allegations from Janay Brun, a field technician for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project. She said this week that she was told by a project biologist at the site where Macho B was captured to leave female jaguar scat there on Feb. 4, two weeks earlier.

"This agency is committed to a thorough review of all facts and circumstances related to the original capture," said Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles in announcing the state investigation. Bob Miles, the chief spokesman for Arizona Game and Fish, said the department has received Brun's statement, but he would not say what connection, if any, it has to the investigation.

He would not comment on Brun's allegations or say whether Game and Fish is looking into whether the capture was intentional.

On Wednesday afternoon, Grijalva, of Tucson, and the environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity issued statements calling for a federal investigation of Macho B's capture and death. Because Game and Fish captured the animal and was the lead agency in the recapture and subsequent euthanization of Macho B, Grijalva and center director Kieran Suckling said it is not adequate or appropriate for Game and Fish to investigate its own activities.

"Arizona Game and Fish Department has made it abundantly clear that they would not change any aspect of their actions previous, during and after the capture," Grijalva said in a letter sent Tuesday to Rowan W. Gould, the service's acting director. "As such, it is prudent for your agency to base decisions on this matter that bear from your own examination of facts."

Suckling said that Game and Fish has a severe conflict of interest.

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