The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public's help in finding the individual or individuals responsible for the illegal killing of two bighorn sheep at Canyon Lake, northeast of Apache Junction, on April 19 or 20.
The two majestic desert bighorn sheep rams were illegally shot and killed in Unit 24B along the southern shore of Canyon Lake, west of Beer Can Point. Due to the rugged area where the crime was committed, department investigators believe that the poachers reached the area by boat, and possibly at night.
One ram had the head and horns removed and taken from the scene while the rest of the carcass was left to rot. The second ram, located approximately 100 yards from the first, was needlessly killed and left to waste at the scene with nothing removed from the carcass.
"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," says Officer Brian Anthony, wildlife manager assigned to the department's Mesa office. "The poacher left the animals to waste, and we need assistance from the public to find who committed these senseless acts."
Anthony 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."
"These aren't the actions of a hunter," says Anthony. "They're acts of criminals stealing wildlife assets and resources from the people of Arizona."
The department's Operation Game Thief Program is offering a reward of up to $8,000 for the arrest of the subject or subjects who committed this crime. The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society has offered an additional reward of $1,000 per bighorn sheep for a criminal conviction in this case.
To report information on this incident, or any wildlife law violation, call the department's Operation Game Thief hotline, toll-free at (800) 352-0700, or report online at www.azgfd.gov/thief . Caller identities may remain confidential upon request.