The man who captured an endangered jaguar, whose controversial death sparked outrage from animal-rights groups, pleaded guilty in federal court today to prohibited "take" of an animal.
Emil McCain, a biologist working for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, admitted that in February of 2009 he had illegally placed a jaguar scat in the Atascosa Mountains near Ruby and directed a woman to place jaguar scats at snare sites that were authorized to snare only mountain lions and bears.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, McCain knew the jaguar -- referred to as Macho B by its captors -- was in the area because photos of the endangered cat had been taken in the area in the weeks leading up to its capture.
McCain, the U.S. attorney says, had no authorization to trap the cat.
"One of the state officials employed to protect our endangered wildlife instead endangered this same wildlife. The community was rightfully outraged. Public trust had been broken," says U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "This office takes its responsibility to enforce federal species laws seriously and will robustly enforce these protections."
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Macho was released back into the wilderness after his initial capture but was recaptured about a month later. It was determined that the cat was suffering kidney failure.
That was the end of the road for "Macho" and he was euthanized.
As medical records later showed, "Macho B," the last known wild Jaguar in the United States, was more likely dehydrated than suffering kidney failure, and giving the animal a little water probably would have done the trick.
McCain was sentenced to five years' probation with the condition that he cannot be involved in any large cat or carnivore project or study in the United States during that time. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.