Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on a new Department of the Interior report examining the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s handling of an endangered jaguar that died in its custody:
“The Inspector General’s report confirmed my suspicions and concerns that the original capture of the last known living jaguar in Arizona by Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) employees was not authorized under the law. I am troubled to find that there is evidence linking a Game and Fish subcontractor, and possibly an employee, to criminal wrongdoing in this capture. The report found that the Memorandum of Understanding between AZGFD and the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requiring consultation between the agencies was ignored by Game and Fish and that both the Agency and its contractor lacked the necessary permits that would allow it to intentionally or incidentally snare a jaguar in the course of its study on bears and mountain lions. Unfortunately, bungling by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding a necropsy of the animal hampered efforts to determine the cause of death.
The FWS should work with the Department of Justice to take immediate actions against AZGFD for its statutory violations. Fish and Wildlife should suspend all authorization the state agency has to manage jaguars until these issues are corrected. This report makes it quite clear that there continues to be confusion on the part of AZGFD regarding the authorities that they have and do not have under their agreement with the FWS.”