March 3, 2009

Wildlife Officials Forced To Euthanize Rare US Jaguar

An extremely rare U.S. jaguar, recently fitted with a satellite-tracking collar, was recaptured and euthanized on Monday after veterinarians found it was suffering from a terminal disease, Reuters reported.

The male cat, which was first caught on February 20 in a rugged area southwest of Tucson, was found to be suffering from untreatable kidney failure, officials from the U.S. and Arizona wildlife services said.

Steve Spangle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arizona field supervisor, said the appropriate course of action was to euthanize the animal, given the hopelessly terminal nature of its condition.

The jaguar was said to be 15 to 16 years old. Experts say that kidney failure is a common ailment in older cats.

Jaguars typically inhabit the areas of northern Argentina in the south to the borderland wildernesses of Arizona and New Mexico, where populations had seemingly dropped off until two confirmed sightings in 1996.

There have been only a few Jaguar sightings in the United States since then, and very little is known about their habits.

Data gathered after the jaguar's release indicated the animal was doing well, however, additional reports in recent days showed a decreased level of activity that warranted further investigation.

The jaguar was recaptured for medical intervention and a team of veterinarians found it was in severe and unrecoverable kidney failure and opted to euthanize it.

Gary Hovatter, deputy director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said they were looking forward to using the data to learn more about the species use of the borderland habitats in order to further conserve the species as a whole.

The jaguars were placed under Endangered Species Act protections in 1997. Researchers now use camera-tracking devices set on remote trails to identify individual animals. So far, they have recorded only male cats.

The jaguars are believed to be breeding in Mexico and making there way up over the border.

Concern over the well being of the U.S. Jaguar population has intensified in recent years, as a program to build 670 miles of security fencing gathers speed along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico.


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