I'm an ad man by day. I'm currently working on a hybrid-car account, using the process of elimination to rule out stuff that's been done before.
If you want to show how sleek a car is, for example, you'd better be careful about turning to the metaphor of a cat. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the reference might bring to mind the “Jag-yoo-are,” as Will Ferrell's eye-patch-wearing, luxury-obsessed voiceover character on SNL called it.
When you're brainstorming for an ad campaign, your attention can really wander.
Did you know that Jaguar was purchased from Ford in 2008 by the humorously named Indian company Tata Motors? I didn't.
Once I got the jag stuck in my head, I had to go and start thinking about real jaguars. What should I know about them?
Did you know that last year, the very last known jaguar in the United States, the first to be discovered in more than a century, was trapped and euthanized under dubious circumstances by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD)?
According to a nine-page Interior Department report, released on Jan. 19, an Arizona Game and Fish Department subcontractor and possibly an AZGFD employee committed criminal wrongdoing in the capture of Macho B, widely believed to have been the last jaguar north of Mexico and possibly the oldest living jaguar in the wild.
Macho B was captured in February 2009 in Penasco Canyon, near Nogales, Ariz., in a leg-hold snare by AZGFD researchers, who were trapping mountain lions and black bears during a biological study.
The AZGFD then collared Macho B with a GPS tracking device and released him. Days later, the collar stopped indicating movement. They searched for Macho B, found him and took him to the Phoenix Zoo, where veterinarians discovered that he suffered from irreversible renal failure. As a result, Arizona Ecological Services ordered euthansia for Macho B on March 2, 2009.
In the wake of media coverage and public questions about the circumstances of Macho B's capture and death, the AZGFD and the Arizona Attorney General's Office launched an investigation.
One major concern reported in the media at the time was that when Macho B was captured, he was allegedly left snared in below-freezing temperatures for several hours.
Soon after the state investigation got underway, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would conduct its own investigation. On April 29, 2009, AZGFD and the Arizona Attorney General's Office discontinued their inquiry in light of the federal probe.
The federal report was damning:
1. “We found that the AZGFD was aware of Macho B's presence in the vicinity of its mountain lion and black bear study in late December 2008 and January 2009, yet it did not consult with FWS, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.”
2. “We also found that a FWS field supervisor incorrectly gave approval to AZGFD for a cosmetic necropsy of Macho B, verses a complete necropsy, because he did not know the difference between the two procedures. Thus, some organs were inaccessible, leaving doubt as to the cause of death.”
3. “Finally, evidence, which was developed as part of the ongoing criminal investigation by FWS Office of Law Enforcement and the United States Department of Justice, indicates that Macho B's first capture by AZGFD employees was intentional.”
Failure to report knowledge of the presence of the endangered cat to proper federal authorities and a botched necropsy that concealed the cause of death are bad enough, but the claim that AZGFD employees intentionally captured Macho B contradicts statements by the department at the time and, according to a press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity, implies criminal behavior.
So, according to the U.S. government, the last jaguar in the country was wrongly captured and dubiously destroyed—and where is the national outrage?
I think it's because we're so used to the loss of wildlife that the most surprising thing about this report is probably not the allegation that state employees illegally captured and possibly hastened, or caused, the death of this majestic, aging creature, but, rather, that a wild jaguar even existed in the U.S.
Anyway, here we are once again: It looks like jaguars are finished in the U.S., just as they're threatened with near extinction globally. They simply can't protect themselves from us. And that's the reason the U.S. Interior Department report is so important—it's another indicator of the changes going on under the Obama administration that a lot of people seem too busy jerking their knees to notice.
Back in 2008, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, an Air Force veteran and former fish farmer, approved the Bush administration's decision to abandon jaguar recovery under the Endangered Species Act. The decision was the first of its kind in the 34-year history of the Endangered Species Act.
Obama replaced Hall with Sam Hamilton, a 30-year FWS employee who's supported increased protection of wildlife habitat throughout his career. This month, Hamilton's FWS announced a commitment to protect jaguar habitat near the U.S.-Mexico border, which may give the cat a chance at returning to the U.S. wilderness. And the Interior Department report that blew the whistle on the AZGFD? Also prepared by Hamilton's office.
The big-cat idea is probably DOA for selling cars; I'll have to come up with something else. I'm just glad these hybrids are better for the environment than Hummers. I'm also glad “jaguar” popped into my head. You can still find things to be hopeful about if you scratch around a little. Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.