I baited jaguar trap, research worker says

Former Arizona Game and Fish Employee claims she was told to bait the trap with female jaguar scat obtained from the Phoenix Zoo or the Reid Park Zoo.

I baited jaguar trap, research worker says
Arizona Daily Star

Macho B after being collared
Macho B after being collared. Arizona Game and Fish






  1. kt Avatar

    What really struck me after reading several of the links at the CBD Press Release site on this was how the Arizona Game Department fellow tried to claim the woman who was brave enough to come forward with this information was somehow suddenly deficient.

    And the jaguar paw claws … in the tree. The cruelty and suffering of trapping, snaring, etc. Wildlife Services, Joe Blow shifty-eyed trapper, or Arizona state workers.

  2. ChrisH Avatar

    It never ceases to amaze me that the officials involved in this project lied and tried to cover-up something that while not necessary and of dubious morality (the trapping aspect) it was nonetheless legal. If they were worried about the potential for reprocussions from the public, they should have done what all skilled politicians do – leak the info out.
    (This of course becoming the norm in place of studies analysis, impact statements and public input and response.)
    To top it all McCain then blurts out so much bs about the girl that he has zero credibility.
    To some degree it is yahoos like this that run the Mexican Wolf Program, and we all know how well thats working.

  3. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The biologist that captured and collared Macho B is trying to cover his ass because he just killed an endangered species. Strange that he had the Jaguar radio collar on hand when Macho B was captured. The collar looks big enough for a horse. I hope he goes to jail.
    This kind of crap goes on everywhere. I was in Bosque Del Apache Wildlife refuge in February. A new rattlesnake den had been discovered. A graduate student is now putting radios inside of the snakes to see where they go. The motto seems to be” if it moves, put a radio collar on it or in it.”
    The Mexican Wolves are not doing well in Arizona and New Mexico. They have put 200 wolves into the area and only 52 have survived. 30 of the 52 have radio collars. Maybe the 22 wolves without collars are having a hard time catching enough food to feed themselves and the 30 wolves handicapped by collars.
    Yellowstone Wolf numbers are dropping rapidly. Can you say “Studied To Death”. They were asking for donations last fall in Yellowstone when I was there, to put more radio collars on the wolves. It seems that lots of the radio collared wolves were somehow dying. Someone should send the biologists there a Macho B report.

  4. Tilly Avatar

    KT, I had to shake my head at the same thing. Attempting to discredit the technician was about as transparent as a fairy shrimp.

    Also, why was the F&G setting painful leg-hold snares for the other wildlife?

    This story is like a murder mystery movie!

  5. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I agree this is a murder mystery. A little film noir action!

  6. Maska Avatar

    Chris H: It’s actually the same Terry Johnson of AZGFD mentioned in the article who’s the chair of the Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Oversight Committee (AMOC)–the six member group running the Mexican wolf reintroduction on the ground.

    Larry: Just a slight correction to your numbers. The total number of new releases of Mexican wolves from captivity into the wild has recently reached 100–not 200, as stated. I don’t know where you got the 200 figure, but perhaps it included translocations of animals already or previously in the wild. There have been about 165 (give or take) individual animals known to have had paws on the ground at one time or another (and undoubtedly a fair number of pups never caught and/or identified), but those over and above 100 were from natural reproduction.

    The basic reason why the population has stagnated at around 50 has been excessive removals of wolves for conflicts with livestock by project managers in response to political pressure from the livestock industry. Poaching is a distant second, and natural causes barely make the radar.

  7. Maska Avatar

    Oops. Larry, I apologize. It’s about 194 individual animals with paws on the ground–not 165. But the number of 100 new releases is correct.

    Maybe that 190-odd total identified animals that you were talking about.

  8. Salle Avatar

    What struck me is that there seems to have been a secret ulterior motive in keeping the fact of jaguars being present a secret or at least not in the public domain. And I suspect that WS/USFWS were intent on making sure that there weren’t any so that the wall issue can be resolved without the truth being told.
    There are other ways to study wildlife, I think that invasive attachments are not appropriate anymore due to the fact that there have been enough of these devices used. It seems that the collars are as much a detriment to the wildlife as poaching is. I once thought they were a great tool but too much of anything becomes a detriment after a time, in this case time was up a while ago.

    I suspect that someone didn’t want any jaguars to be present in the area and any proof of their presence wasn’t acceptable so they caught and killed it, made up a story after the fact, like many political bad players of late have been able to get away with for too long now.

    I warned a small group of important wildlife advocates, back about five years ago, that the trickle-down style of the Bu$h regime had “trickled-down” to affect the way things were done at every level of our governing bodies. And this just fits into that claim.

    Fortunately, we do have support in this new regime:

    Grijalva calls for federal investigation of jaguar’s death

    He should be Sec. of Interior!


  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Salle is certainly right about the trickle down effect of the Bush regime.

    I can see little change in the attitude of the people actually running the resources policies in the West, except now the same conservation-by-damned people are moving into transmission-line and solar and wind farm permits.

  10. jdubya Avatar

    “”McCain denied having told Brun to place jaguar scat at the snare site and said he didn’t know that she had done it.
    “I’m extremely shocked that she would have said that or put scat in that snare,” McCain said. “That snare was obviously for mountain lion and bear purposes, not for jaguar research.”

    What bullshit. This is exactly what they WOULD do. McCain needs to get a job in a car wash in Tucson.

  11. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I spent a week near Alpine, Arizona this winter and met with the biologists in charge of the Mexican Wolf Project. The numbers I quoted came from them and other members of the Arizona Fish and Game Department. One wildlife refuge manager called the project “Put and Take Wolf Planting”, similar to hatchery trout. I was trying to locate mexican wolves to photograph, but was not sucessful.
    I don’t think there were any ulterior motives in putting a collar on Macho B. It is just part of the same general attitude I see by state and federal wildlife biologists in that they want to have GPS radio collars on everything so they can sit on their butts in an office and do their studies by watching a computer screen while they bullshit and drink coffee. The GPS collars are so large and intrusive that many animals suffer the same fate as Macho B. They spend more time trying to scratch or rub the collar off than they spend hunting or feeding. I have watched wolves, elk, moose, bighorns, pronghorns, grizzlies and coyotes all rubbing or scratching at their radio collars. I have seen Yellowstone pronghorns with all of the hair gone off of their necks from the collars sliding up and down as they feed and raise their heads. I saw a starving elk in yellowstone with its collar upside down and choking it, making it difficult or impossible for it to swallow. When you add the stress of capture and collaring to the collar itself, I suspect a large number of these poor animals die within a year after capture. If I treated a dog like the radio collared animals are treated on our public lands by thesis seeking researchers, I would be in jail.

  12. Jay Avatar

    Wow, lots of wild speculation and accusations flying this morning…

  13. Maska Avatar

    Interesting that an agency person is now using the phrase “put and take” with regard to Mexican wolf management. That term was first used, as far as I know, in the context of the lobos in a presentation by Dave Parsons and Jean Ossorio at the 2007 North American Wolf Conference in Flagstaff. The full title of the presentation was “Mexican Wolf Reintroduction: Put and Take Wolf Recovery?” The presentation was later reworked as a poster presentation for the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists in Albuquerque in June. A third author, Natalie Dawson, was listed on the poster.

    If you are interested in a copy of the script for the original PowerPoint presentation, ask Ralph for my e-mail address and I’ll send you a copy.

  14. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    This sounds surprisingly similar to the situations I faced when I worked for a state agency….really makes me want to say


  15. chris c. Avatar
    chris c.

    There are to be 3 separate reviews of the jaguar incident and none have been completed and/or released to the public. So it’s pretty lame that any quote or opinion that suits those with an agenda is accepted as gospel. Anything contrary to the anti-radio collar/biologists/state agency agenda is completely ignored. Examples include quotes and opinions contrary to the former technician who says she baited the trap and to the vet in a previous article that thought the wild jaguar should’ve been given fluids for 48 hours as if it was a tame little kitty cat. To prematurely judge and slander those breaking their backs for conservation is pure b.s.

  16. jimbob Avatar

    This is a sad story to say the least, but let’s look at who has anything to gain in this. Would certain governmental entities benefit from no remaining jags in the US? Would they order people to do things that MIGHT cause harm to the species? Has this type of thing been done in the past, for instance during the bush regime against endangered species? Would ranchers and wall builders benefit if they did not have to worry about jaguars? I’d say yes to all of those questions. Does it look suspicious? Is the woman credible in her accusations? If she is, I’d say this looks damning. I’d also say our game and fish dept. here in Arizona has been subservient to ranching, mining and livestock interests for 100+ years so it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out this was either a cover-up or conspiracy, and I hate conspiracy theories. The problem with conspiracy theories is nobody ever talks. Someone might have talked this time.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The outcome of this, because of the publicity and the victory in the recent lawsuit, might eventually be a reintroduction of jaguar to the United States. 🙂

  18. Elizabeth Avatar

    Ralph, I hope you’re right about reintroduction!

  19. Ryan Avatar

    Good gods, I thought the right wingers had cornered the market on Foil hats :).

  20. Tilly Avatar

    Larry T, thanks for the thoughtful and chilling comments on the effects of collars.

    If modern cell phones have GPS units, can’t we make the collars smaller these days? Or make it an ear tag or something small and less traumatic? (That is, if tracking is really and truly necessary of course.)

    Ken, can you please re-post the NYT article on how people are moving away from collars you posted a few weeks? It seems relevant to this string and I can’t seem to find it in the archives. Thanks.

  21. Tilly Avatar

    There is an article in the current Nat’l Geographic on an international project to save jags, El Paseo del Jaguar.

    Also a neat interactive map of all of its habitat from US to Brazil.

  22. kt Avatar

    But Tilly: So much of the modern Game Department and Land Grant college 2-year study-it-to-death program is about CONTROL. So we can impose “desirable” management.

    A nice big heavy (and perhaps even colorful) collar is part of the symbolism and culture of Control and Control Through “Study”.

    You see stupidity and bias interjected into studies all the time – be it University of Idaho researchers in the days of GPS technology FLAGGING pygmy rabbit occupied areas with pink flagging in the Lemhi – GEE do you think an avian predator might somehow pick up on repeated truck stops, pink flagging and the presence of tasty morsels, to the kinds of situations Larry Thorngren describes.

  23. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    how about everyone is capable of distorting facts, for what ever reason, to fit what one believes,,
    its why the “accuracy” of science is hard to believe. Depends on who s paying for the science

  24. kt Avatar

    ALSO, I see Demarcated Landscapes has a Post today that mentions that the Game Department or others may have BIG GRANT MONEY for jaguar studying on the line/exposed here.

    Does anyone know the figures we are talking about? Can any unspent funds be ordered on hold or rescinded or the effort turned over to some other party?

    THIS has the makings of movie script. I am serious. If done right, it could educate people about so many things – from the Border Wall travesty to the sad and sorry state of current wildlife “management” and the Good Old Boys involved.

  25. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    I’d venture to say that the vast majority of biologists take every precaution to ensure that the animals they capture and radiocollar are treated with respect and do everything in their power to minimize capture-related negative impacts. Most universities and state agencies have protocols/standards for humaneness. Mr. Thorngren’s statement that ” that many animals suffer the same fate as Macho B,” and “a large number of these poor animals die within a year after capture” are completely unfounded. I’m sure biologists are saddened whenever something like this happens, and hopefully learn from the incident. After all, they are trying to benefit the species by learning things that may not be possible to determine in any other way. Certainly there are some seemingly suspicious circumstances surrounding this animal’s death, but to imply that researchers are routinely and intentionally mistreating animals is wrong. I submit that Mr. Thorngren “met with the biologists in charge of the Mexican Wolf Project” because they could provide him with potential locations to photograph Mex. wolves based on data from radiocollared wolves. You can’t have it both ways.

  26. Ryan Avatar

    From what I have read, Jaguars are very rare in the US. These foil hat theories about rancher consipiracies are nice and all, but dollars to donuts researchers just want to learn more about the few Jaguars that do occasionally inhabit the US. It was unfortunate that they collared an old male that died due to the stress, chances are he wouldn’t have lived another year anyways. Cougars, bears, and many animals are collared in research efforts. A group of researchers following around this Jaguar would have been much more detremential IMHO (modifying behaviors etc) than collaring it.

  27. JB Avatar

    Note, the study Ken links to (above) caused quite a controversy in another thread, where some people agreed with Senator McCain’s assertion that it was a waste of taxpayer dollars. I disagree–it allowed for an estimate of the grizzly population (one with pleasant results), and I’m certain the genetic data collected will be used in other studies. However, the outcry regarding the cost of this study helps explain why radio collars are so popular–while they are expensive to get on animals, once they are in place they allow for continuous and relatively long-term data collection without much expense. I wonder if the same people who don’t like radio and GPS collars would be willing to support observational studies when they saw how much it costs to keep several techs in the field for 2-5 years?

    I agree with Ryan about the use of radio and GPS collars, these tools allow scientists to collect different data than hair snags or observation and thus answer different questions regarding the behavioral ecology of wild animals.

  28. Salle Avatar

    “Mr. Thorngren’s statement that ” that many animals suffer the same fate as Macho B,” and “a large number of these poor animals die within a year after capture” are completely unfounded.”

    Recently there was a report (it was posted on this blog) which stated that a major percentage of the wolves in this Mexican Gray Wolf “put and take” fiasco had died from either the trauma of capture/collar or being imprisoned in a zoo or wherever they keep these poor animals. I think Larry is calling it on that point and I agree with him.

    “If done right, it could educate people about so many things – from the Border Wall travesty to the sad and sorry state of current wildlife “management” and the Good Old Boys involved.”

    And kt has a valid point as well. If you watched how Idaho’s gang of F&G goons or the ones who handle bison outside of Yellowstone NP treat the wild bison they handle operate, you’d have a different opinion.

    Yest there are ethical individuals conducting research in ethical process but is that all that is required in handling wildlife? I’d wager that many who do research in school may not have a clue about what is actually needed to ensure that no harm is done to the animals they handle.

    Remember, in many a scientific inquiry the “sample” that gets tested has to be destroyed to study it…

    Why can’t we leave anything alone and spend our time and money on making humans behave in ways that have little or no impact on the other living organisms with which we share the planet? ~ and I’m using the term “share” very loosely because I think that the concept of sharing is lost on most humans.

  29. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    I’m all in favor of the techniques written about in the link Mr. Cole provides. But you can’t delineate a home range/territory (and then maybe designate critical habitat) without having some idea of movement on the landscape. I also wish there were some way to just let nature run its course without having to capture and mark animals with the attendant risks that go with that. Those decrying the recent poaching of wolves in Washington as a despicable act should be aware that several cases have been made against other violators in the NRM due to radiocollars. I’m not familiar with the specifics of handling-related mortality on the Mex. wolf project, but if it’s above 1 animal every 2-3 years then they need to re-examine their program.

  30. kt Avatar

    As Salle mentions about ID Fish and Game – related to wolves and I am beginning to fear sage goruse and any other creature of concern as well, one can NOT assume that even if the all goes swimmingly with any radio collar effort – any data obtained will be used in a good way for wildllfe.

    And some states, even with Open Records laws, have various veils they can hide, obscure or otherwise bury biological info behind. THEN the “results” are cooked at the report level by Managers. What you get from ANY interior western state these days – is reports with info spun, spun, and spun again to not upset the livestock – and increasingly the industrial renewables industry – thugs and enforcers.

    Or “research” that does not answer many important question but sucks up large amounts of tax dollars to perpetuate the status quo on public lands. Just look at all the several hundreds of thousands of dollars sunk into pygmy rabbit research in the Lemhi and other areas – with little to no effort to look at what grazing is doing. Their are understood, unwritten boundaries to what Land Grant college folks in stats like Idaho can find.

  31. JB Avatar

    “Their are understood, unwritten boundaries to what Land Grant college folks in stats like Idaho can find.”

    What does being at a land grant university have anything to do with what you can find? In my experience, there are no limits on what one can find/publish; the limitations are on what types of research questions one can ask when it involves STATE money.

  32. ChrisH Avatar

    The following is from the World Conservation Website:
    Recently, however, Venezuela and Mexico began exploring the possibility of offering “green” jaguar hunts. In this case, the hunter pays a fee for the opportunity to chase and shoot a jaguar with immobilizing drugs. The drugged jaguar is then radio collared and monitored as part of a research project. Safari Club International (SCI) has a new category for cat hunters that want to pursue these trophy animals – darted jaguar. The effects of this type of hunting on jaguars is not understood and there has been no evaluation of its success in conservation efforts for jaguars. The implications of using such approaches for jaguar conservation are unknown and need to be carefully mentioned.

  33. Salle Avatar

    “Recently, however, Venezuela and Mexico began exploring the possibility of offering “green” jaguar hunts. In this case, the hunter pays a fee for the opportunity to chase and shoot a jaguar with immobilizing drugs. The drugged jaguar is then radio collared and monitored as part of a research project. Safari Club International (SCI) has a new category for cat hunters that want to pursue these trophy animals – darted jaguar.”

    That’s just sick. All these clowns are about is shooting something, usually something precious, as if it were some religious right of passage to have shot something with a gun. There’s just something inherently wrong about this mindset and it promotes a warmongering contingent in our already troubled society.

    Makes me more in favor of gun control, even though I own and use guns myself. I would gladly give them up for a more sane world without them.

    In fact, I would rather see these pseudo-macho-men fight the animals with their bare hands… now that would be more in tune with the natural order of life in the biosphere! besides, we could do with a few billion less humans as it is ~ the elimination of some of them by wildlife would be most appropriate.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole