The Arizona Game and Fish Commission this past Friday levied a civil assessment of $8,000 against Emil McCain of Patagonia for the prohibited take of an endangered jaguar.
The commission indicated that the amount of the assessment could be revisited and potentially increased in the future if the Game and Fish Department can establish a greater value for the animal or identify additional recoverable costs.
The commission also revoked McCain's Arizona hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years. Arizona is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which means that McCain's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges will be revoked in all the member compact states, which includes most of the western United States.
McCain's case was heard during the commission's public meeting Aug. 6, but he was not present for the hearing.
McCain pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on May 14 for unlawfully taking a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act. His plea agreement detailed how he placed jaguar scat, or directed another person to place jaguar scat, at snare sites to intentionally capture a jaguar. The jaguar known as Macho B was caught in one of those snare sites on Feb. 18, 2009.
As part of his plea agreement in May, 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. He was also fined $1,000 for the Class A misdemeanor conviction.
Some previous media reports and other accounts about McCain's guilty plea have incorrectly identified him as an Arizona Game and Fish Department employee or state official. McCain has never been an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and, by the time Macho B was initially captured, McCain had no contractual or volunteer relationship with the department.
McCain acknowledged during the change of plea proceeding that he was under no authorization from the department for the intentional capture of a jaguar.