by Jim Nintzel
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has responded to the Inspector General report related to Macho B, the last known living jaguar in the United States:
Late this afternoon, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received from the media a redacted copy of the U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General (IG) report about events related to the jaguar known as Macho B. The Department would note that, to the extent the document received is a true and accurate version of the report, it still represents a redacted and therefore incomplete version that gives no useful indication of what additional clarity or context the redacted material might add to the public’s understanding of it. Regardless, the Department has the following comment:
1. The Department stands by its previous statements that the Department did not direct any Department employee or any other person associated with the initial capture to intentionally capture a jaguar. Should the outcome of the ongoing Federal criminal or Department administrative investigations demonstrate that individuals employed by the Department acted contrary to the Department’s understanding of the facts or contrary to Department direction, the Department remains committed to its previous assurance that it will take or pursue appropriate action.
2. The Department is disappointed that it was at no time contacted during the IG’s investigation
or prior to the release of the report. The report provided contains allegations and opinions apparently untested by the IG. Many of those assertions have been previously addressed by the Department and present little or no new information.
3. The IG notes that the Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that the Department’s Director requested an independent investigation into the circumstances of the jaguar’s capture, and ultimate euthanization, shortly after that euthanization. The Department continues to fully cooperate with the ongoing Federal investigation and, acting in cooperation with the Service, has conducted its own extensive internal administrative investigation into the matter. The administrative investigation remains ongoing pending final resolution of the Federal investigation.
4. The Department notes that the IG apparently ignores the Section 6 authorities conveyed to the state by the Endangered Species Act and further, the IG misunderstands the scope of the Department’s authority under its Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit. The Department disagrees with any assertion in the report that the Department did not have a valid permit.
5. As noted by the IG, the full necropsy of the jaguar remains incomplete pending the inclusion of the findings of tests done by several other laboratories. The Department awaits the release of those findings by the Service. Once thoroughly reviewed, final conclusions about the jaguar’s physical condition at the time of its recapture can usefully be made.
The Department will continue to cooperate fully with the Federal investigation to its completion.