Federal investigators are weighing whether the evidence gathered in the case of jaguar Macho B merits prosecution of anyone involved in its capture last year, an official said Friday.
The criminal investigation is now under "prosecutorial review" by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tucson, said Nicholas Chavez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement chief for the Southwest.
"It's an ongoing investigation with coordination and consultation going on between the service and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Chavez, who declined to comment on specifics.
The U.S. Attorney's Office will not comment on the case because of the ongoing criminal investigation, said Sandra Raynor, a spokeswoman for the office in Tucson.
The Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Interior Department issued a report this week saying that the Feb. 18, 2009, capture of the 15-year-old Macho B was intentional and that evidence gathered in the case points to criminal wrongdoing. It did not name any specific persons as potential suspects.
The jaguar died 12 days after his capture after he slowed down and was recaptured and then euthanized.
The capture by Arizona Game and Fish violated the law, the new report said, in part because the state didn't have a valid permit to capture the jaguar.
Game and Fish responded that it did not order anyone to capture the jaguar and that it believes it had a valid capture permit.
Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or firstname.lastname@example.org