The federal government has opened a criminal investigation into the capture and death of the last known jaguar in the United States, amid accusations that a biologist working for the state illegally baited a trap to attract the cat.
The 118-pound male jaguar, known as Macho B, was captured on Feb. 18 in a leg-hold snare placed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a rugged mountainous area southwest of Tucson. The animal, which was described in field reports as healthy and robust, was tranquilized, equipped with a radio-tracking collar and released from the trap.
The jaguar, which was estimated to be 16 years old, was recaptured with tranquilizing darts on March 2 after wildlife personnel feared that it might be in poor health. It was flown by helicopter to the Phoenix Zoo, where a veterinarian said it had irreversible kidney failure. It was euthanized the same day.