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Really Rare Jaguar Euthanized

Arizona Game and Fish had to euthanize a jaguar they caught and collared just a couple weeks ago. We’ve known jaguars were back in the U.S. since the mid-1990s from pictures on motion-detector cameras. But this was the first time North America’s only roaring big cat had been caught in the U.S. And it was by accident–they laid out leg snares for bears and mountain lions. So they’d seen this guy, known as Macho B, for a long time. In fact, he was the oldest jaguar in the wild.

The department made a big show of not telling where this cat was caught. But, given that it took them 13 years to capture this one, I don’t really imagine anyone trying to do it in a day on a lark. Since they describe the area as southwest of Tuscon and fitted the collar with a device to go off over the border, I would assume the area was right around Nogales–where the department shows a bear population on their map.

The biologists noticed the jaguar not moving, so they recaptured him and noticed that he’d lost a lot of weight. Tests showed severe kidney failure, something they think takes weeks not just days. But the first blood samples they took from Macho B were only for DNA use, they say, so they won’t be able to tell how sick he was when they caught him the first time.

I would think that it would be an incredible coincidence if this wise old cat’s death and its collaring happened within two weeks of each other. I don’t think there’s anything the biologists could have done that would have caused kidney failure. (Though catching an animal in a leg snare wouldn’t help.) I think it’s more likely that the cat was weakened and that’s why he somehow missed one of these traps that he’d been avoiding for all these years.

Macho B was one of only two individuals they knew about in Arizona. The population in northern Mexico is still illegally hunt and caught and is cut off from the rest of the jaguar population. The border fence threatens to divide the territory further–maybe leaving no jaguars on our side. So it would be an incredible feat to get them re-established.

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