Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wildlife veterinarians weigh in on Macho B's capture

AZ Star had this article today, and some of the statements are pretty damning for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD):
It was "absolutely inexcusable" for the state to not have electric monitoring of the snare traps in a protocol intended for the only jaguar known to live in the United States, said Winston Vickers of the University of California-Davis.

The amount of equipment needed for such monitoring is minimal, he said. Electronic monitors send a radio signal that sets off an alarm.

When using snares on big animals that are likely to injure themselves, such as bears, mountain lions and jaguars, it is standard to use radio transmitters that alert researchers to a capture, said David Jessup a senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Game and Fish Department.

"Allowing a bear or cougar to struggle for 12 hours isn't, in my opinion, professionally acceptable," Jessup said.
There's more- a lot more- in the article, that will turn your stomach. While it's true that the mishandling of Macho B has been particularly tragic, it also calls into question the way the agency handles wildlife in general. AZGFD's Terry Johnson had this to say in their defense:
"These folks hammering us on all this stuff, alleging all kinds of crap, well, we make judgment calls like these every single day," Johnson said in a telephone interview. "Ninety eight to 99 percent of these judgments, decisions and actions turn out right, you get the information you want and no animal is harmed. Then something goes wrong, and everyone is second-guessing everything."
If it's any comfort, Mr. Johnson, we've been second-guessing you for a while now.

UPDATE: Check out this blog post by veterinarian Kris Nelson. Basically, a long list of things that AZGFD should be held accountable for.

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