Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More about the folks who captured Macho B

Yesterday, we briefly posted an article that ran in the Arizona Daily Star last weekend that was about Emil McCain, one of the researchers involved in the likely baiting of Macho B that led to the bungled capture and euthanasia. The gist was:
The biologist at the center of the controversy over the capture of a jaguar in Southern Arizona once was fired from a wildlife research job after being cited for hunting with another person's license.
McCain was only 23 at the time, and hey, we all make mistakes. We're not sure how relevant this old violation is, except to paint a picture of McCain that may or may not help the investigation.

So, upon further reflection, we took our post back down. For one, we started thinking about mistakes we made when we were 23 and wouldn't want anyone to use them against us now! (Oh, but what fun!) For another, it seemed to us that focusing on McCain's character is a convenient scapegoating for the agencies which appear to have known about, authorized, and maybe even participated in the baiting. To say simply that McCain is, "at the center of the controversy," really neglects that there are a lot of people standing right there with him. We're looking at you, Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Moreover, McCain was not involved in the capture, collaring, sedating, or euthanasia decisions; AZGFD was. We'll bet that some of the AZGFD employees have some skeletons in their closets too- and those employees' youthful indiscretions are about as relevant.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grijalva's Border Bill

We're a few days late with this news, and we apologize. But that doesn't mean that we're not totally on board with Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva's newly introduced Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009. The Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009 will:
* Require the Department of Homeland Security to consult with federal land managers and state, local, and tribal governments in creating a Border Protection Strategy that supports border security efforts while also protecting federal and tribal lands.

* Provide for flexibility, rather than a “one size fits all” approach, to border security by allowing experts at DHS to decide upon best strategies for border security.

* Allow land managers, local officials, and local communities to have a say in border security decisions, requiring full public notice and participation.

* Ensure that laws intended to protect air, water, wildlife, culture, and health and safety are fully upheld.
Sounds pretty good, no? Go here to watch the Sierra Club response. And then call your congressperson and urge her/him to get behind this important piece of legislation.

Grijalva would have been an awesome Secretary of the Interior, btw. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Somali pirates = Eco warriors?

Today's story, You Are Being Lied to About the Somali Pirates, in the San Francisco Bay View was interesting:
In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters … We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.” William Scott would understand those words.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about “evil.” If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause - our crimes - before we send in the gunboats to root out Somalia’s criminals.
The Somali pirates emerged as a de facto Coast Guard to protect the fisheries from trespass and illegal dumping! Who knew?

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.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Video about Mexican wolves

This website has been getting plugged all over the media lately, from NPR to the NY Times. Hopefully, it will generate some public pressure to stop the federal trapping and shooting of the wolves this spring. Current federal management has been a part of the problem. We're ready for a solution.

Mashup on Macho B

Discover Magazine online is working with a new format: the mashup. They skim the news and cite from other sources to create compelling aggregates of interesting science news. (How does this differ from a blog?)

Here, they mashup the story of Macho B. From the questions surrounding the circumstance surrounding his capture to his health prior being put down, to the new federal investigation into the whole boondoggle, the mashup pretty much has it all.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has this statement up on its website:
The circumstances surrounding the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s work with the Macho B jaguar are under federal investigation. We welcome the investigation and will fully cooperate with it. We will not speculate on its outcome. In the event this investigation reveals any inappropriate conduct or actions, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department will take appropriate measures. The Department and Commission did not authorize or condone intentional initial capture of this jaguar.
Notice, however, that they aren't saying that they didn't know about it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

They baited Macho B; so much for "accidentally"

Today's Arizona Daily Star has this article revealing that a field researcher was directed to bait the snare they used to catch the jaguar, Macho B. She's speaking out because she feels guilty he was killed as a result of this action.

Janay Brun has worked as both a volunteer and paid employee for the project and she has no reason to lie.