Only Known Wild Jaguar in the U.S. Is Dead


Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

The first wild jaguar to be captured and fitted with a radio-collar in the United States — and the only wild jaguar known to be living in the U.S. — was euthanized in Phoenix, Arizona last night, Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity said today. (Read the National Geographic News story.)

“The jaguar, ‘Macho B,’ was accidentally captured in an Arizona Game and Fish Department trap on February 18 and was recaptured and euthanized Monday after he was found to be suffering from kidney failure,” Suckling said in an email message.

“This is a terrible setback for the fragile population of northern jaguars that once ranged from the Bay Area of California to the Appalachian Mountains and now are so rare that only four have been photographed in the U.S. since 1996,” he added.

National Geographic News reported last week that Macho B was the first jaguar in more than a century to have been caught and collared in the U.S.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Department spotted the 118-pound (54-kilogram) male during a research study of mountain lion and black bear habitat,” Christine Dell’Amore reported. “It was later confirmed to be Macho B, an animal that has been photographed since 1996 and could be between 14 to 16 years old–making it the oldest jaguar ever collared.”

It is unclear whether the stress from the repeated captures and sedation caused the weak kidney to fail, Suckling said in his email today. The Center for Biological Diversity is keeping a close eye on the post-mortem investigation to determine what caused the jaguar’s death, he added.


Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

Michael Robinson, the conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the death of Macho B was a major setback for the jaguar, particularly given that the new border wall between Mexico and the U.S. was making it much harder for jaguars to reoccupy their ancestral homes in the southern United States.


“Macho’s legacy should be action to develop a science-based recovery plan and protection of the areas they call home to ensure their survival,” Robinson said in a statement on the Center’s Web site.

The Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity will be in federal district court in Tucson on March 23 in its lawsuit against a Bush-era U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refusal to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for the jaguar.

A recovery plan would lay out the information needed for jaguar recovery, the least intrusive means of getting that data, and the means by which the population of jaguars would be increased and secured.

“We support research to understand the jaguar’s ecology, including capturing animals when necessary,” Robinson said. “But it does entail risk, and with the Bush administration’s refusal to develop a recovery plan and protect critical habitat for the jaguar, it is unclear how the information will be used to benefit the jaguar.”

“An overarching recovery plan would serve as a roadmap for a time when jaguars are far more resilient to the loss of a single animal than they are today.”

Related: Jaguar Seen in Central Mexico for First Time in 100 Years

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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn