Center for Biological Diversity Takes First Step in Lawsuit Against the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the Illegal Killing of Macho B and to Prevent Capture of Another Jaguar

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Center for Biological Diversity Takes First Step in Lawsuit Against the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the Illegal Killing of Macho B and to Prevent Capture of Another Jaguar

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal 60-day notice of intent to sue today to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally "taking" the jaguar,
Macho B, in order to prevent further harm to jaguars by the
Department's reckless capture practices. Macho B was captured on
February 18, 2009 in southern Arizona's mountains, outfitted with a
radio collar, and released onsite, then re-captured and euthanized on
March 2. According to more than one veterinarian, his capture
contributed to his death.

"The death of Macho B was
a tragedy that should never have happened," said Michael Robinson,
conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. "We are
taking action today to ensure that no more jaguars are captured like
Macho B."

Arizona Game and Fish has repeatedly
stated its intention to capture additional jaguars in the United States
using snares - this despite the fact that in addition to the death of
Macho B, two out of three attempts in recent years to capture jaguars
in northern Mexico utilizing similar methods resulted in the deaths of
the animals, and in the third attempt the animal's fate is unknown. The
Department has not provided assurances that it will use different
methods in future captures or more importantly, that it can safely
capture jaguars for research purposes.

"Because of
the small number of northern jaguars, mortality of even one jaguar is a
travesty," said Robinson. "It also violates the law."

"Take" of an endangered species, which includes actions that "harass,
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect"
endangered species, is illegal under Section 9 of the Endangered
Species Act. Section 10 of the Act allows exceptions to the take
prohibition under some circumstances. Permits issued under authority of
Section 10(a)(1)(A) allow deliberate take for purposes of research and
conservation of endangered species. Section 10(a)(1)(B) permits allow
take that is not deliberate but rather incidental to otherwise lawful
activity.

Macho B was snared as part of a study on
mountain lions and black bears that had the potential for incidental
capture of jaguars. Arizona Game and Fish does not have the requisite
incidental take permit for this study. Instead, the Department has a
permit that covers deliberate take of a number of endangered species in
the state, but not specifically the jaguar. Evidence has since come to
light that individuals involved in the study may have been purposefully
setting traps in an area where they knew there were jaguar and may have
even baited the trap with female jaguar scat. Such activities are not
covered by the Department's permit because it does not cover jaguar and
because the stated intent of the study was not to deliberately capture
jaguars.

"Arizona Game and Fish's actions resulting
in the capture of Macho B are a clear violation of the Endangered
Species Act and should never have occurred," said Robinson. "The loss
of the last known wild jaguar in the United States was tragic for the
animal and a terrible setback for recovery."

Jaguars are the largest cat native to North America and the third
largest cat globally. Originally found from California to the
Carolinas, jaguars were hunted to near extinction in the United States.
Jaguars were added to the U.S. list of endangered species in 1997,
following litigation by the Center. A March 30, 2009 ruling in another
Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit struck down the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service's refusal to develop a recovery plan and designate
critical habitat for jaguars.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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