AZFGD late night news dump: we still didn't have anything to do with trapping jaguar Macho B

Macho B Jaguar pre-release / AZFGD

Macho B Jaguar pre-release / AZFGD

The Arizona Fish and Game Department issued a late night news release Friday after 8 p.m. saying charges against Janay Brun, 39, the whistleblower in the death of jaguar Macho B were dropped Thursday. In a floridly defensive tone, the AZGFD stresses they didn’t authorize trapping the jaguar, but they had a permit to if they wanted to. And they’re still looking for the real culprits.

Macho B, the last known U.S. jaguar, was first spotted in 1996, then followed by researchers in the Atascosa Mountains for 13 years.  On Feb. 4, 2009 Brun, a part-time researcher for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, and Emil McCain, first described as a state employee but later downgraded to a former subcontractor, baited a trap with female jaguar scat McCain got in the mail. The trap caught Macho B on Feb. 8, 2009.

AZFGD sent out a jubilant press release: Arizona Game and Fish Collars First Wild Jaguar in United States.

Macho B then suffered a steep decline that was later blamed on the trapping. He was recaptured and euthanized on March 2, 2009.

Days later Brun stepped to tell the Arizona Daily Star that she had worked with McCain and baited the trap with scat in the presence of an unnamed AZFGD employee.

“I felt guilty as all hell that I never questioned Emil enough, that I didn’t go back and set the snares off or do something to get them out of there,” Brun told the Star. McCain pled guilty last year to the unlawfully taking a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Taking here includes trapping. As usual, punishment under ESA was minimal: $1,000 fine and five years of staying away from big cat research as a condition of probation.

I still don’t see any word on the state employee who was supposed to be there at the time.

AZFGD did fire Thornton “Thorry” Smith last March, but only coming up with a cover story about the scat after the fact. They explain it in the press release:


… it has been shown that the Arizona Game and Fish Department did have a valid permit covering incidental or intentional take of a jaguar, did not authorize the initial capture of Macho B, and that no department employees have been implicated in criminal wrongdoing in the actions resulting in Macho B’s capture,” said Larry Voyles, Game and Fish director.  “Additionally, inaccurate and misleading accusations of criminal wrongdoing by the department, made in the media and by other sources, are simply unfounded and irresponsible.”

One Game and Fish employee, Thornton W. Smith, was dismissed in May 2010 as a result of admissions he made during the department’s internal investigation: that he had lied to federal investigators. Those admissions were related to actions Smith took several weeks after Macho B’s capture, recapture and euthanization, and not to his actions during the initial capture.



The department says it is still investigating. But when their purpose seems to be showing that they didn’t have anything to do with it, I’m not really waiting for much of a truth-finding out of the  AZFGD.


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