PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating a reported incident of harassing wildlife with an aircraft. Multiple reports were received by the department on Aug. 22 and 23 from a number of concerned archery hunters who witnessed the incidents.
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.
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.
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.
If you suspect or have knowledge of illegal activity involving wildlife or habitat, call Operation Game Thief at 800-352-0700.