Feb. 18, 2009 – On National Forest lands southwest of Tucson, a jaguar is inadvertently captured during the course of a black bear and mountain lion study. Biologists take the opportunity to fit the animal with a lightweight tracking collar to learn more about the species before releasing it at the capture site.
Feb. 19, 2009 – Through analysis of the jaguar’s spots, it is determined that the animal is Macho B, a male cat that had been photographed by trail cameras periodically over the past 13 years. Macho B was believed to be the oldest known jaguar in the wild at 15-16 years old.
Feb. 24, 2009 – Initial data from the tracking collar shows that the jaguar moved more than three miles from the capture site and was foraging and moving well throughout the habitat.
February 28, 2009 – Updated tracking data indicates a change in the jaguar’s movement, so at midday a field team comprised of biologists deploys to visually assess the animal in the field and to try to locate any kills it might have made (javelina are common in that area). Tracking-collar data are extremely limited because the area is so rugged that the tracking collar signal cannot reach the satellite network. The Team is unable to locate the jaguar or a kill.
March 1, 2009 – Tracking-collar information is still limited due to signal blockage. But, the field team, which now includes a veterinarian, gets a visual on Macho B. The cat’s condition seems to be deteriorating, so the team hikes out far enough for their satellite phone to work. They talk with Arizona Game and Fish Department contacts in Phoenix, who coordinate planning efforts for re-capture the next day and on-site veterinary assessment of the cat’s condition.
March 2, 2009 – Through assistance from tracking hounds, the field team locates Macho B, anesthetizes him with a dart, diagnoses probable renal failure, and transports him to The Phoenix Zoo for further veterinary assessment.
Within 3.5 hours of recapture, expert veterinarians at The Phoenix Zoo conduct physical exams and blood tests that reveal Macho B is suffering from severe and unrecoverable kidney failure.
Acting on recommendations from the veterinarians, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department authorize that the animal be euthanized and that a necropsy be conducted to determine as much as possible about what might have contributed to the terminal kidney failure.