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    Sportsman’s Clubs Help Nab Poachers - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Sportsman’s Clubs Help Nab Poachers

    I’ve said it before. Poachers are scum, and they are NOT hunters in any way, shape or form. Glad they caught these asshats. Hope they get the max civil penalties as well.

    From AZGFD:

    Sportsmen’s clubs help collar poachers: bighorn sheep poaching leads to jail, fines

    The illegal killing of two desert bighorn sheep ewes - one of which was collared for a research effort - has resulted in jail time, fines, and probation for three Kingman residents.

    On Sept. 6, 2006, a collared bighorn ewe was found shot just west of Union Pass on the north side of Highway 68 between Golden Valley and Bullhead City. The sheep had been part of an Arizona Game & Fish Department study designed to assist Arizona Department of Transportation in determining where these sheep were crossing the highway. The project also provided critical information about range fragmentation and the population’s genetic fitness. As the investigation progressed, a second ewe was found shot dead.

    “This was not the action of sportsmen,” said Bob Posey, regional supervisor for the AZG&F Kingman office. “Hunters do not condone this type of behavior and, in fact, played a key role in bringing the defendants to justice.”

    In the beginning, officers struggled to find clues that would identify who was responsible for the crimes. When the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society and the Mohave Sportsman Club partnered with AZG&F to offer a reward totaling $2,500, investigators began receiving tips from the public.

    Information provided by a confidential informant led to the arrest of three individuals by Game and Fish officers: James Tarantino, 22, Nathan DeYoung, 21, and Daniel Stapleton, 21. Although Tarantino was responsible for shooting the two ewes, the judge found DeYoung and Stapleton to be culpable because they helped cover up the crime and did not report the incident.

    Tarantino pled guilty in Bullhead City Justice Court on May 25 to two counts of taking wildlife during the closed season and possession of wildlife unlawfully taken. As part of a plea agreement, the judge dismissed charges of waste of edible game meat and exceeding the bag limit. He fined Tarantino $4,520 and ordered him to pay AZG&F $1,600 in restitution to help offset costs associated with the capture and collaring of another bighorn sheep. In addition, Tarantino must serve 12 months of unsupervised probation and forfeit the firearm he used to commit the crime.

    DeYoung went to trial in Mohave County Court on Sept. 5 and was convicted of taking wildlife during the closed season, possessing wildlife unlawfully taken, and wasting game meat. Judge Thomas Brady sentenced him to 30 days in jail and fined him $2,650.

    Stapleton, who was set to go on trial Sept. 6, instead accepted a plea agreement stipulating he receive 10 days in jail, one year probation, and pay $2,500 in fines and $500 in restitution.

    “I’m pleased with the outcome,” Posey said. “It’s important to get the message out that the department will vigorously pursue people who violate wildlife laws.”

    All three men still face civil penalties that may be imposed by the AZG&F Commission for the loss of the wildlife to the State of Arizona. Under the new rules, bighorn sheep have a minimum civil assessment value of $8,000 each.

    Tim Baumgarten, law enforcement program manager with the department’s Kingman office, said sportsmen’s groups played a vital role in catching the poachers.

    “Sportsmen clubs helped us make this case and arrest the three poachers,” Baumgarten said. “The additional reward money these clubs put on the table resulted in someone coming forward with critical information.”

    (Individuals witnessing or suspecting wildlife related crimes can call the Operation Game Thief toll free hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-352-0700. Callers can remain anonymous. The OGT program pays rewards for information leading to the arrest of suspects in wildlife-related crimes.)

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