by Jim Nintzel
The Arizona Republic's Dennis Wagner examines how state wildlife officials colluded with private biologists to capture Macho B, the last known jaguar in the United States. The big cat had to be euthanized after he was collared:
Although Game and Fish officials claimed Macho B’s capture was accidental, McCain actually set the snare along a favored trail and baited it with scat from a female jaguar in heat. Then he flew to Europe to visit his girlfriend, leaving Smith and another Game and Fish employee to check the traps.
Macho B was caught on Feb. 18, 2009. Smith promptly shared the news with Ron Thompson, the Game and Fish administrator overseeing carnivores, who fired an e-mail to McCain in Spain, announcing: “Thorry did it!”
As word spread, congratulatory messages contained a hint of conspiracy. McCain received one e-mail from a co-worker who wrote, “And just think, he was an ‘incidental’ take. The hell with politics.”
The answer: “Yes, it was incidental, and you know that. Right? I had nothing to do with this right? And neither did Ron.”
Thompson then issued a warning about indiscreet messages: “Emil, be aware that we cannot use the government email to communicate with you. Sky Island (Alliance) is calling it a conspiracy, and for the first time they are right!”