(CN) – Federal prosecutors will drop charges against an Arizona woman who has admitted to violations of the Endangered Species Act for her role in the death of the nation’s last known wild jaguar.
Janay Brun admitted under oath before U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson to placing jaguar scat at a snare site in an attempt to capture the jaguar known as Macho B, prosecutors said Thursday. Less than two weeks after its initial capture in February 2009, the big cat, suffering from kidney failure, had to be recaptured and euthanized by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.
Under the terms of the agreement, prosecutors dismissed the criminal information against Brun and will not reinstate as long as she stays out of jaguar or large-cat studies for a year and does not violate any laws.
In May 2010, big cat researcher Emil McCain pleaded guilty to the prohibited take of an endangered species and was sentenced to five years of probation. At the time of the capture, he had been setting snares as part of a study of mountain lions and bears in the remote area near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Also that month, federal prosecutors filed charges against researcher Brun, alleging that she had “placed jaguar scat or was directed to place jaguar scat at snare sites in an attempt to capture and trap an endangered species.”
“Brun knew that there had been recent evidence of a jaguar in the area of the snares,” according to the original complaint. “The snares had been set solely for the purpose of capturing and placing tracking collars on mountain lions and bears; there was no authorization to intentionally capture a jaguar. A jaguar known as Macho B was caught at one of those snare sites on February 18, 2009.”
In a January report and recommendation, U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Thomas Ferraro found that the agency had a valid permit to take a jaguar at the time of Macho B’s capture. Though Ferraro recommended dismissal of the conspiracy charge against Brun, the magistrate also called for a jury to decide whether Brun’s actions were covered by that permit.
Macho B was believed to be the oldest known jaguar in the wild. His age was estimated at 2 to 3 years old in photographs taken in 1996, making him 15 to 16 years old at the time of his death.
“I am pleased with this agreement because Ms. Brun has been cooperative with our investigation, and now she has admitted under oath her involvement in the capture of the jaguar Macho B,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said in a statement.