The Arizona Game and Fish Department today made public its response to a January 2010 federal report on the events surrounding the capture and recapture of the jaguar Macho B. The Department’s response criticizes nearly every finding in the report and calls for an independent review of the report by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency.
The response, posted in its entirety on the Department’s website, counters the findings and conclusions made in a U.S. Department of Interior, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report titled Investigative Report, Macho B.
The Department’s response concludes that the OIG report is neither accurate, objective nor unbiased. The response states that the OIG likely exceeded its statutory authority by focusing its error-laden investigation on the Department, and not on the performance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its programs and operations. The results of the improper investigation have unnecessarily and unfairly damaged the professional reputation of the Department.
The 10-page response from the Department:
- Concludes that the OIG chose to publish its own unsubstantiated “findings” before the conclusion of the investigation initiated by the FWS, any decision to file charges, or the adjudication of guilt or innocence of any party.
- States that the totality of the legal and factual errors and omissions compromises nearly every “finding” of the OIG’s report.
- Denies as sensational and unsubstantiated the OIG’s charge that the initial capture of Macho B by Department employees was intentional.
- Makes it clear that Emil McCain, a biologist with the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, was acting on his own behalf and was not a contractor, subcontractor, nor a formal volunteer for the Department during bear and lion research study field activities in February 2009.
- Disputes that FWS employees were neither involved with the capture or recapture of Macho B, nor the planning of the mountain lion and black bear study that resulted in the capture of the jaguar.
- Points out that FWS, not the Department, is responsible for initiating consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for federally-funded activities.
- Maintains that the Department’s ESA Section 6 Cooperative Agreement with the FWS and its ESA Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit authorized incidental capture of a jaguar.
- Denies the report’s implication that the Department sought a “cosmetic” necropsy of Macho B for purposes of a cover-up and points out that the necropsy performed permitted a thorough post-mortem analysis.
As a result, the Department has requested a review of the OIG report by the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The purpose of the Integrity Committee is to review and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing by the OIG.
Read the entire response at the Department’s website at www.azgfd.gov/w_c/jaguar/responseOIGReport.shtml.