Janay Brun, 39, of Sasabe, Arizona, executed a diversion agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in which she admitted to committing an Attempted Take of an Endangered Species, which is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Brun admitted under oath before U.S. District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson to placing jaguar scat at a snare site in an attempt to capture the jaguar known as Macho B.
Under the terms of the agreement, the criminal charges against Brun will be dismissed and not be reinstated if she complies with the terms of the diversion agreement; namely that she not be involved in any jaguar or large cat study in the United States for 12 months and that she not violate any federal, state, or local law.
On Feb. 4, 2009, at or near Ruby, Ariz., in the Atascosa Mountain region, Brun and Emil McCain placed jaguar scat near snare sites in an attempt to capture and trap the jaguar known as Macho B.
McCain had previously been a subcontractor for Game and Fish, but only to capture mountain lions and bears, not jaguars. As the department previously has stated, at the time of Macho B's initial capture in February 2009, McCain was acting independently and was neither a subcontractor nor a formal volunteer for the department.
McCain worked with Brun as part of the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, whose main task was photographing and tracking jaguar activity in Southern Arizona.
According to court documents: Brun knew that there had been recent evidence of Macho B's presence in the area of the snares. The snares had been set for the purpose of capturing and placing tracking collars on mountain lions and bears; there was no authorization or permission to intentionally capture a jaguar. The jaguar known as Macho B was caught at a snare site where Brun placed scat on February 18, 2009.
McCain plead guilty in May 2010 to unlawfully taking a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and he received five years probation with the condition that he not participate in any jaguar or large cat study in the United States for that period, and a $1,000 fine.
Brun's admission conclusively establishes her true involvement in this matter and supports the Arizona Game and Fish Department's long-standing assertion that there was no authorization from the department for the capture of Macho B.
Even though Game and Fish did not authorize the capture of Macho B, it had a valid permit covering either the incidental or intentional take of a jaguar for conservation purposes. The validity of the permit was affirmed earlier this year by two federal judges.
"Following the extensive two-year federal investigation, resulting in two separate court actions, it has been shown that the Arizona Game and Fish Department did have a valid permit covering incidental or intentional take of a jaguar, did not authorize the initial capture of Macho B, and that no department employees have been implicated in criminal wrongdoing in the actions resulting in Macho B's capture," said Larry Voyles, Game and Fish director. "Additionally, inaccurate and misleading accusations of criminal wrongdoing by the department, made in the media and by other sources, are simply unfounded and irresponsible."
One Game and Fish employee, Thornton W. Smith, was dismissed in May 2010 as a result of admissions he made during the department's internal investigation: that he had lied to federal investigators. Those admissions were related to actions Smith took several weeks after Macho B's capture, recapture and euthanization, and not to his actions during the initial capture.
Voyles added that the department's own internal investigation continues to be open and ongoing.