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AZ: Game and Fish agents bust poachers, urge hunter safety in the field

Game and Fish agents bust poachers, urge hunter safety in the field

November 19, 2010

Agents from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) cited two hunters last month for illegally taking deer in the Santa Cruz County area.

On Oct. 23, Agent Mark Freiberg cited Ernesto Valenzuela of Fort Bliss, Texas for illegally shooting two does in the Tumacacori Mountains.

"It is my understanding that he may have thought he had shot male deer," said AZGFD spokesman Mark Hart.

Hart said Valenzuela was also charged with illegal take, exceeding the bag limit, take during closed season, and waste of game meat.

"Our recommendation in a case when someone accidentally shoots an animal that they don't have a tag for, is to contact us," said Hart. "We understand that mistakes can be made in the field but to have just shot the does and left them there - that's a chargeable offense."

Then on Oct. 29, Robert Mull, a resident of Phoenix, was cited for shooting a mule deer from his vehicle in Arivaca.

"He was also charged with shooting a quarter mile from a structure," said Hart, who added that a nearby homeowner filed the complaint.

Hart said both men both might face both civil and criminal charges and could lose their hunting licenses.

"We take a dim view of these cases," he said.

Accident concerns

Hart said that aside from the illegal pursuit of game, agents are concerned with keeping hunters safe. He said while big game hunters prefer to don full camouflage, if another hunting party is in the field, agents urge everyone to wear orange.

"That's where we have the most concern about accidents," Hart said. "We also recommend hunters exercise caution in the field when hunting near the border because of the prevalence of illegal immigration and drug smuggling activity."

Hart said hunters should be especially leery of "lay-up spots" where undocumented border-crossers are often picked up.

"Also be weary of abandoned vehicles and leaving your vehicle unattended," he said. "Lock your cars up, use a steering wheel lock. Make sure someone knows your destination and time of return."

Out of harm's way

Game and Fish agents also recommend that hunters in Santa Cruz County keep the phone number for the Border Patrol stored on their cell phones. "Call suspicious activity in and stay out of harm's way," Hart said.

Hart said many hunters are aware of the potential dangers of hunting on the border and are therefore reluctant to visit those areas.

"That's a challenge for us as an agency because the borderland areas often have leftover (unsold) game tags," he said.

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