We just got word that the Arizona Game & Fish Department has been granted a federal permit to "take" (trap) more jaguars despite being partially responsible for the illegal "take," and ultimately the death, of "Macho B," the last known wild jaguar in the United States, last year.
AGF was granted a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday that allows the agency to trap the rare cats -- something the Center for Biological Diversity claims can often include "killing, injuring, or otherwise harming" the animals.
Michael Robinson, an official with the Center for Biological Diversity, tells New Times that giving the agency the authority to trap these animals probably isn't the best idea.
"These are very rare, endangered animals and we saw what happened the last time they got one," Robinson says.
In order to trap a jaguar, however, Game & Fish first has to find one, which may be hard to do considering the agency offed the last known, wild jaguar in the entire country 15 months ago.
For anyone unfamiliar with the case, here's a brief rundown of the tragic fate of Macho B: In February, Game & Fish trapped and tagged a jaguar named Macho B as part of an effort to track the migration patterns of mountain lions and other animals near the Mexico-Arizona border.
Macho B was released back into the wild until March, when they recaptured the jaguar and determined he was suffering kidney failure.
That was the end of the road for Macho, and he was euthanized.
As it turns out, Macho B was more likely dehydrated than suffering kidney failure, and giving the animal a little water probably would have done the trick.
Robinson says while the jaguars are extremely rare, they're still out there and trapping them has led to the death of at least three of the huge cats in Arizona and northern Mexico in recent years.
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The permit doesn't give Game & Fish the authority to start trapping immediately, though. According to Robinson, the organization has to submit "plans to minimize the likelihood that jaguars or ocelots will be injured or killed. The plan for intentional take must be reviewed by the respective recovery teams for each species; a jaguar recovery team has not yet been appointed but will be as a result of a Center lawsuit. But in planning for the possibility of an unintentional jaguar capture, the Jaguar Conservation Team -- an interagency group chaired by Game & Fish -- could approve standards even before a recovery team is appointed."
Robinson, however, doesn't have a whole lot of faith in the Jaguar Conservation Team.
"The Jaguar Conservation Team served as a cheerleader for capture of jaguars before Macho B's sad and unnecessary death," said Robinson. "It would be a mistake to let this group watchdog Arizona Game and Fish."