Multiple reports were received by the Department on Aug. 22 and 23, 2014 from a number of concerned archery hunters who witnessed the incidents. On two consecutive mornings, the reporting parties observed a helicopter with unique markings and tail numbers repeatedly chasing, herding and harassing antelope in the northeastern part of Game Management Unit 18B.
Arizona Game and Fish Commission rule R12-4-320 as well as federal wildlife statutes prohibit the use of any aircraft to harass, herd or purposely move wildlife in any manner. Part of the Department’s investigation included serving a search warrant for the helicopter and its global positioning system (GPS) at a ranch headquarters in northern Yavapai County.
Game and Fish Kingman Regional Supervisor Tom Finley stated, “The Arizona Game and Fish Department takes these types of complaints seriously and will investigate any misuse of aircraft. The herding or harassing of wildlife is unfair, unethical and illegal, and it poses a danger to the public.”
The investigation is ongoing and no charges have yet been filed in the case. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also is investigating the incident regarding violation of the Federal Airborne Hunting Act.
This investigation was made possible because citizens reported the incident to Operation Game Thief. If you suspect or have knowledge of illegal activity involving wildlife or habitat, call Operation Game Thief at 800-352-0700.
About The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD)
The Arizona Game and Fish Department mission is to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.