(CN) – The oldest known jaguar in the United States was killed while in federal custody and the Center for Biological Diversity wants Arizona enjoined from capturing any more jaguars in the wild for its “Large Carnivore Study” or for “any other activity.” Arizona Game and Fish has an “incidental take permit” for more jaguars, but the Center says if it does, it’s invalid.
The lawsuit in Tucson Federal Court says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the jaguar as endangered in the United States until the Center for Biological Diversity sued it in the 1990s.
The new lawsuit, against the Arizona Game and Fish Department, says Game and Fish researchers found the old jaguar, known as Macho B, in a snare trap southwest of Tucson on Feb. 18 this year.
The “Large Carnivore Habitat Connectivity and Population Persistence Study” of bears and mountain lions was funded and carried out by the defendant agency.
“Following his capture, Macho B was anesthetized, fitted with a tracking collar, and released. At the time of his capture, Macho B is believed to have been over 15 years old – the oldest known jaguar found in the United States,” according to the complaint.
The old cat “remained within a few miles of the capture site,” which made researchers think he was ill. He was recaptured on March 2 and flown by helicopter to the Phoenix Zoo.
“(T)ests suggested that he was suffering from acute kidney failure, and he was euthanized the same day,” the complaint states. “Evidence from Macho B’s necropsy indicates that the stress of capture and sedation may have contributed to the jaguar’s death.”
Arizona Fish and Game has an “incidental take permit” to capture more jaguars for its Large Carnivore Study.
The Center for Biological Diversity says that if the agency does have such a permit, it’s invalid.
It wants a declaration stating as much, and wants Fish and Game enjoined from capturing any more jaguars.
Jaguars still roam the Baboquivari Mountains, a rugged chain that forms the eastern border of the 3 million-acre Tohono O’odham reservation west of Tucson. Kitt Peak Astronomical Observatory, on the reservation, is on the northern end of the mountain chain.
The Center for Biological Diversity is represented by its staff attorney John Buse in San Francisco.