Biologist sanctioned in death of jaguar

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission said it has levied a civil assessment of $8,000 against a Patagonia biologist for his role in the 2009 trapping and subsequent death of a jaguar known as “Macho B.”

The commission indicated that the amount of the assessment against Emil McCain could be revisited and potentially increased in the future if the Game and Fish Department can establish a greater value for the animal.

McCain previously had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge.

Macho B was trapped on Feb. 18, 2009, fitted with a radio collar and released. The jaguar was recaptured due to health problems and euthanized on March 2, 2009.

The commission revoked McCain’s Arizona hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years. Arizona is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which means McCain’s hunting, fishing and trapping privileges will be revoked in all the member compact states as well.

McCain’s case was heard during Friday’s regularly scheduled public commission meeting. He was not present for the hearing.

McCain pleaded guilty on May 14 to capturing a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act. His plea agreement detailed how he placed scat at snare sites to intentionally capture a jaguar. Macho B was caught in one of those snares on Feb. 18, 2009.

As part of his plea agreement in May, McCain was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo P. Velasco to five years of supervised probation with the condition that he is not permitted to be in any way involved in any large cat or carnivore project in the United States during his probationary term. He was also fined $1,000.

Some previous media reports have incorrectly identified McCain as an Arizona Game and Fish employee. Both the department and McCain have acknowledged that McCain was under no authorization from the department for the capture of the jaguar.

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