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Suspect in AZ Jaguar B incident pleads guilty to endangered species violatio

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Emil McCain, 31, of Patagonia, the individual involved in the Macho B incident last year, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Friday, May 14 for unlawfully taking a jaguar, an endangered species, in violation of the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

McCain was sentenced by U. S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo P. Velasco to five years of supervised probation with the condition that he is not permitted to be employed or any way involved in any large cat or large carnivore project or study in the United States during his probationary term. McCain was also fined $1,000 for the Class A misdemeanor conviction.

Court documents provide the following facts describing McCain’s connection to the conduct for which he pleaded guilty:

On February 4, 2009, at or near Ruby, in the District of Arizona, Emil McCain placed jaguar scat or directed a female person to place jaguar scat at three (3) snare sites in an attempt to capture and trap an endangered species, to wit, a jaguar (Panthera onca). McCain knew that there had been recent evidence of a jaguar in the area of the snares. The snares had been set solely for the purpose of capturing and placing tracking collars on mountain lions and bears; there was no authorization to intentionally capture a jaguar. A jaguar known as Macho B was caught at one of those snare sites on February 18, 2009.

Some media reports and other accounts about McCain’s guilty plea have incorrectly identified McCain as an Arizona Game and Fish Department employee or state official. As the Department has previously stated, McCain has never been an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and by February 2009, when Macho B was initially captured, McCain was acting independently, and was neither a contractor, subcontractor, nor a formal volunteer to the Department.

McCain’s admission of guilt conclusively establishes his true involvement in this matter and supports the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s long-standing assertion that there was no authorization from the Department for the intentional capture of a jaguar.

Until the Department obtains access to the federal investigative file, the Department’s own internal investigation continues to be open and ongoing.

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