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Spate of poaching incidents has Arizona Game and Fish Department asking for the public's help

December 31, 2009 |  8:26 am

A bull elk makes its high-pitched mating call.

A rash of poaching incidents this month has Arizona Game and Fish Department officers asking for the public's help in apprehending those responsible.

Two elk and one mule deer were recently found dead within close proximity to each other along the Perkinsville highway, about 30 miles south of Williams near the Prescott National Forest boundary. All three animals had been shot and decapitated and the carcasses were left to waste, though a hindquarter from one of the elk had been removed. 

"As with many poaching cases, we need help from the public. Someone may have been in this area recently and seen or heard something associated with these cases," said Game and Fish wildlife manager Mike Rice.

Earlier this month, Game and Fish Department officers discovered a bull elk that had been killed near the Williams airport, and a trophy-class mule deer buck that had been shot and killed near the Arizona-Utah border. Although officials suspect that the elk shooting may have been accidental -- it occurred during the open cow elk hunting season -- they said the shooting of the mule deer was definitely an illegal act, as there were no deer hunting seasons open.

"The wasteful shooting of these animals is not an act of responsible hunters -- this is done by unethical poachers," Rice said. "These individuals have no respect for wildlife or for the game laws and regulations put in place to protect the state's wildlife."

Anyone with information is urged to call the department's Operation Game Thief anti-poaching hotline at (800) 352-0700. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to the arrest of the violators.

Poachers are an insult to hunters who not only follow the rules and regulations surrounding their sport but contribute greatly to the conservation of wildlife. I hope these scofflaws are caught and brought to justice, and that the punishment is severe enough to make whoever is responsible think twice about doing such unlawful activities again.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A bull elk makes its high-pitched mating call. Credit: Associated Press

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