If you live in Arizona, you’ve probably heard of Macho B. Macho B was believed to be the last surviving jaguar in North America. Southern Arizona is at the extreme northern boundary of the jaguar’s range and it was believed that no jaguars remained north of the United States border with Mexico. However, a snare set for a research tracking project tracking the movements of mountain lions and bears accidentally snared Macho B. Now one might wonder why officials didn’t simply let Macho B go, but that’s another story (and a long one.)

It came to pass that Macho B ended up at the Phoenix Zoo. While there, zoo veterinarians tested him for kidney failures via a blood test. The test was positive and Macho B was euthanized. However, a pathologist at the University of Arizona’s Veterinary diagnostic Laboratory reviewed the tissue sample and concluded that Macho B’s test results could have actually indicated dehydration. The pathologist, Sharon Dial, said it is unproven dogma among some medical experts that blood levels alone can be used to “make a definitive statement that this animal will not survive.” Dial disagreed. “…I can say by looking at the kidneys that there is no structural reason why he would not have [survived]…For a supposed 15 year old cat, he had damned good looking kidneys.”

So, was Macho B doomed to a slow death due to kidney failure? Or did he have kidneys any 15 year old jaguar could be proud of? It’s a question of measurement variation, specifically reproducible error. In Six Sigma work we are faced with such questions every day. So are others, although they may not know it until it’s too late to matter.

Macho B Update

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department yesterday formally placed one of its employees on administrative leave with pay as a result of an interim finding in the department’s ongoing internal administrative investigation into the events surrounding last year’s capture of the jaguar known as Macho B. The department took this action based on statements made by the employee during the course of the internal investigation, bringing about a need to consider taking administrative action to resolve concerns raised by the statements.

Under state personnel rules, placing an employee on paid administrative leave relieves the employee of duties, pending a determination on what final administrative action may be taken.

Department officials said the employee’s statements were related to the employee’s actions taken several weeks after the capture, recapture and euthanization of Macho B. The department continues to maintain that it did not direct any department employee to capture a jaguar, and that the department’s actions related to the capture were lawful.

Department officials added that the Game and Fish internal investigation cannot be considered completed until the department has an opportunity to review whatever findings may come out of a concurrent federal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Game and Fish Dismisses Employee Involved in Jaguar Capture

March 19, 2010

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department today dismissed one of its employees as a result of the department’s ongoing internal administrative investigation into the events surrounding last year’s capture of the jaguar known as Macho B.

Dismissed was Thornton W. Smith, 40, a wildlife technician for 12 years with the department and one of the field biologists involved in the placement and monitoring of traps used in a black bear and mountain lion research project that resulted in the initial capture of Macho B.

The department dismissed Smith based on the employee’s own interview statements made during the course of the internal investigation. The statements related to Smith’s conduct that occurred several weeks after the capture, recapture and euthanizing of Macho B.

Smith’s statements and further investigation confirmed that he did not comply with verbal and written directions issued by supervisors and that he admitted to knowingly misleading federal investigators regarding facts surrounding the original capture of Macho B.

The department’s official letter that documents the grounds for dismissal was delivered to Smith earlier today.

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