Thursday, February 11, 2010

Game & Fish challenges NPR jaguar story

The following unedited press release was issued late yesterday by Arizona Game and Fish:

Arizonans may have heard a story on National Public Radio this morning (Feb. 10) that includes some factual errors regarding a recent U.S. Department of the Interior Inspector General (IG) report about the capture and handling of the jaguar known as Macho B.

“If you listened to this morning’s NPR report and you think you know the story of Macho B, you’ve been misled,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (Department).

As part of a larger story about jaguar conservation, the reporter makes this inaccurate statement: “A recent congressional investigation concluded [the capture] wasn’t incidental at all, but a bungled intentional operation.”

The Department would like to correct the factual errors in this statement by noting the following:

The report NPR refers to was issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior Inspector General - it is not a “congressional report” at all.

Nowhere in the IG report does it state that the capture was a “bungled intentional operation.”
The Department believes the IG report is inaccurate and draws conclusions from unsubstantiated allegations and hearsay statements of unidentified persons. It is important (and disappointing) to note that the IG’s office never contacted the Arizona Game and Fish Department during the IG investigation. No Department employees were interviewed and no Department documentation was requested by IG investigators during the course of their investigation.

The Department continues to cooperate in an ongoing Federal law enforcement investigation and is conducting its own internal administrative investigation. The Department stands by its previous statements that it did not direct any Department employee to capture a jaguar. Should the outcome of the ongoing Federal or Department investigations demonstrate that any employee acted contrary to the Department’s understanding of the facts, the Department will take appropriate disciplinary action.

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