Monday, December 10, 2012

Web of intrigue surrounds death of jaguar Macho B

...The furor over Macho B’s death — publicly blamed on McCain as a rogue biologist — persists to this day. Yet the truth about his demise has remained hidden for nearly three years. An Arizona Republic investigation revealed that Macho B was caught and killed in a web of intrigue involving environmental politics, border security, greed and scientific egos. According to investigative files, state wildlife employees were complicit in the exotic cat’s capture, motivated in part by their quest for government research funds that were being offered to study the impact of a border fence on wildlife. Documents obtained under public-records laws also reveal that the federal government’s “jaguar lead,” the person responsible for protecting the endangered cat, was advised that snares were set in Macho B’s territory. During a criminal probe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators wrote that she obstructed justice and committed fraud by deleting evidence from her computers. She was not prosecuted or disciplined in connection with Macho B’s death. Records make it clear that the saga of Macho B continues: Some of those directly involved in his demise are today profiting as contractors from a $771,000 Homeland Security grant to survey and conserve jaguars along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their work, financed by U.S. taxpayers, could result in new regulations and policies for public land in southern Arizona and might influence border- security efforts. That project is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “jaguar lead,” Erin Fernandez, who was involved in Macho B’s case. She declined comment. The federal agency and the University of Arizona, which won the contract, both refuse to discuss their research and withheld key records. When Macho B was captured, Arizona Game and Fish officials first claimed the jaguar accidentally stepped into a research snare set for lions and bears. At the same time, they celebrated the event as an opportunity for conservation. In theory, biologists tracking a jaguar’s movement via radio collar would better understand the animal’s behavior and habitat needs. So Game and Fish administrators sent e-mails of congratulations and gratitude to McCain and others who took part in Macho B’s capture. But the 16-year-old cat, perhaps the oldest jaguar ever documented in the wild, faltered from his stressful encounter with humans. After 12 days, he was recaptured and euthanized based on a diagnosis of kidney failure. A guilt-ridden Brun went to the media, divulging the truth: Macho B had been intentionally lured into the snare. With the government’s first narrative debunked, state wildlife officials put forth a second story asserting that McCain had acted without the agency’s approval or sanction, and had duped the department employees who helped him...more

 Some of those directly involved in his demise are today profiting as contractors from a $771,000 Homeland Security grant to survey and conserve jaguars along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Department of Interior is ripping off Homeland Security as funds meant for border security are transferred to Interior for wildlife and other studies.  The result?  One dead jaguar.  Why?

Terry Johnson, former endangered-species coordinator for the state Game and Fish Department, said he believes Macho B was captured because researchers got caught up in the quest for prestige and a federal “pot of gold” being offered for studies of jaguar transborder movements. “I think everything boils down to two things: One is ego and the other is money,” said Johnson. “When the (U.S.-Mexico) border fence started to go up, and the prospect of millions of dollars to support (wildlife-research) projects went up, then immediately the interest was broadened.” “I do believe there was intent ... to capture Macho B, and in turn to influence the issuance of those monies.”

This whole jaguar thing stinks, from Macho B to the designation of critical habitat.  When will we have an investigation into the shenanigans involved in the critical habitat designation?

No comments: