Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jaguar named Macho B has died, but his story lives on

4:02 PM, March 17, 2009

He won over the hearts of thousands after his inadvertent capture last month, and now there's a new page on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's website devoted exclusively to the late jaguar named Macho B.

The Feb. 18 capture, south of Tucson, by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists conducting a bear and mountain lion study, was exciting because it demonstrated once more that beautiful but endangered jaguars still consider Arizona part of their northern range.

(By 1990, jaguars were thought to have been eliminated from the United States, but in 1996 two male jaguars were photographed, mostly by trail cameras, in southwestern New Mexico and Arizona. Today, the northern-most known population of jaguars is centered about 140 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Sonora.)

Macho B was one of those two male jaguars. As it states on the website, he was the oldest known jaguar in the wild at 15 or 16 years.

He was fitted with a tracking collar and set free but did not stray far from the relocation site after a week in the wild, and was recaptured and found to be suffering from kidney failure. Biologists made the sad but proper decision to euthanize the weakened animal.

The website is extensive and includes numerous links, including one to an Arizona Republic editorial that begins with this passage:

"He was a tease in a fancy spotted coat. A male of mystery who appeared from time to time with a poignant message for a rapidly urbanizing state: 'I'm here.' "

-- Pete Thomas


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