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Up to $10,000 reward offered in dual bighorn sheep ram poaching incident in Arizona

May 7, 2010 | 10:45 am

Bighorn

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public’s help in finding the individual or individuals responsible for the poaching of two bighorn sheep rams at Canyon Lake, northeast of Apache Junction, on April 19 or 20.

The department’s Operation Game Thief program is offering a reward of up to $8,000 for the arrest of whoever committed this crime. Additionally, the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society has offered a reward of $1,000 per bighorn for a criminal conviction in the case.

The two rams were illegally shot and killed along the southern shore of Canyon Lake, west of Beer Can Point. Because of the rugged area where the carcasses were found, department investigators believe that the poachers reached the area by boat.

"These aren’t the actions of a hunter," said Brian Anthony, wildlife manager of the Game and Fish Department's Mesa office. "They’re acts of criminals stealing wildlife assets and resources from the people of Arizona."

One ram had the head and horns removed and taken, with the rest of the carcass left behind. The second, located approximately 100 yards from the first, was killed and left at the scene intact.

"While the locations of the two animals killed are about 100 yards apart, we believe that the bighorn rams were poached by the same subject or subjects," Anthony said. "The poacher left the animals to waste, and we need assistance from the public to find who committed these senseless acts."

He added, "Bighorn sheep are one of the crown jewels of Arizona’s wildlife resources. The department, in cooperation with the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, has spent a considerable amount of time, money and resources in bolstering this local bighorn herd. This senseless poaching is a setback for the program."

To report information on this incident, call the Operation Game Thief toll-free hotline, (800) 352-0700, or go online to www.azgfd.gov/thief. Caller identities may remain confidential on request.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Desert bighorn sheep ram. Credit: Gary M. Stolz / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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