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April 1st, 2009
Grijalva Asks for Federal Investigation into Death of Arizona Jaguar

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate a formal investigation of the recent capture and euthanization of a northern jaguar in Arizona.

Congressman Grijalva releases the following statement:

“I was saddened by the unfortunate events surrounding the capture and later, euthanization, of the jaguar known as ‘Macho B’ in Southern Arizona last month. Due to recent reports that have reached my office about alleged mishandling of this matter, I have requested a formal investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service, which has jurisdiction over federally listed species, must begin an investigation immediately in order to preserve evidence and determine how to put protocols in place so that similar situations can be avoided in the future.

“While the Arizona Game and Fish Department (the agency that carried out the capture and euthanization of the jaguar) has stated that it will investigate the circumstances of this case, I strongly feel that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the federal agency with responsibility for conservation of endangered species, needs to step in and determine the facts of this case. It is not enough that the Game and Fish Department investigate its own activities, given what has happened, as they have made it clear that they would not change any aspect of their handling of this animal.

“I am also concerned about press reports that indicate that a thorough autopsy of the animal’s remains was not performed because of a desire to preserve the animal’s hide for public display. If this is true, it goes against the public’s right to know what occurred in this case. If the animal’s remains have not been permanently destroyed, I requested that Fish and Wildlife Service perform a thorough autopsy, so that an objective determination can be made about the true cause of death and whether euthanization was necessary.

“It is my hope that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiate a formal investigation of these events so that another incident like this can be avoided in the future.”

Congressman Grijalva’s letter calls for an investigation into the following matters:

1.Whether the initial capture was legally and unintentionally undertaken or whether there was intent or evidence to suggest intent to capture and collar a jaguar;
2.The status of the jaguar capture protocol at the time of capture and how the state agency and/or contractors implemented any such protocol in this case.
3.The factors leading to the animal’s re-capture, the two-day re-capture itself, and whether this was a proper decision under the circumstances;
4.The health status of the animal prior to euthanization and whether there should have been additional time or alternative measures taken to save the animal’s life;
5.Why a more thorough autopsy was not performed, instead of a cursory one designed to preserve the hide of the animal, who made that determination and upon what criteria this decision was made; and
6.The extent to which the Fish and Wildlife Service’s was involved in the events or decision-making in this case.

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