Arizona Game and Fish Department NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release, Aug. 27, 2015
Tucson Men Convicted of Poaching in Redington Pass; Both Sentenced to Jail, Fined, in “Friday Night Lights” Case
TUCSON, Ariz. – Two men from Tucson apprehended in 2014 by Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) officers were recently convicted of multiple wildlife violations, sentenced to jail and fined in a case stemming from the illegal killing of five deer in Redington Pass.
One defendant pled guilty to 16 charges, and the other to nine charges. They were each sentenced to 120 days in jail.
They are also each required to serve 100 hours of community service and 24 months of unsupervised probation, attend a hunter education class as well as an animal treatment offender program, and pay all civil penalties that may be imposed by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Both defendants were criminally fined $750.
The investigation began August 23, 2014, an AZGFD Operation Game Thief report was submitted by an archery deer hunter who had discovered three deer that appeared to be shot with a rifle a day or two earlier. One of the deer was pregnant with two fawns. Archery deer season had opened August 22, but no rifle hunts were allowed at that time.
During the investigation, officers were given a tip about one suspect through the Operation Game Thief Hotline. Through their investigation of the evidence left at the scene and interviews, the officers investigated the two men who later admitted to killing the five deer.
Evidence from the investigation also revealed that the suspects committed multiple game violations from the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2014, including the poaching of 15 deer and many other small game species, reptiles, a hawk, a bobcat and a fox. Many of the offenses occurred on Friday nights from a truck outfitted with LED lights.
Operation Game Thief and a concerned citizen initially offered up to $1,500 for information leading to an arrest in the case, and the Arizona chapter of Safari Club International and the Arizona Deer Association followed with each offering $500 for a conviction. The Mule Deer Foundation, Rincon Outfitters and another concerned citizen later pledged an additional $600 in reward money for a conviction, bring the grand total in rewards offered to $3,100.
“Poaching is not hunting, it’s theft of wildlife from the state and its citizens,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “We are grateful that those with information about the case came forward, and for the contributions made by groups and individuals toward rewards. With hunting season getting underway, this case is an unfortunate reminder that no true sportsman would tolerate this kind of conduct.”
Individuals with information about wildlife violations are urged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700, 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, anonymously if need be. Information may also be provided on-line at http://www.azgfd.gov/ogt_form.shtml
Redington Pass in the Coronado National Forest east of Tucson is used by hunters, OffHighway Vehicle (OHV) riders, recreational shooters and hikers.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has trust responsibility for managing more than 800 native wildlife species – the most of any inland state – for current and future generations of Arizona citizens. http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/northamericanmodel.shtml
The Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability in its programs and activities. If anyone believes they have been discriminated against in any AGFD program or activity, including its employment practices, the individual may file a complaint alleging discrimination directly with the AGFD Director’s Office, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix., AZ 85086, (602) 942-3000 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 130, Arlington, VA 22203. If you require this document in an alternative format, please contact the AGFD Director’s Office as listed above or by calling TTY at 1-800-367-8939.