Arizona Game & Fish Commission hammers convicted game violators

One of the most interesting part of any Arizona Game & Fish Commission meeting is when they hold hearings for license revocations for violations of Game & Fish Codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking or possession of wildlife.

At the commission meeting Friday, five people who have previously been convicted or pleaded guilty under plea agreements to assorted game violations appeared before the commission to hear their fate.

Richard Stephenson is a California resident who was charged with obtaining a resident hunting by fraud from 2011 through 2015. Under a plea agreement, Stephenson pleaded guilty to obtaining a 2016 resident hunting license by fraud. He had paid a fine of $801.50 pursuant to the plea agreement, but the commission revoked his hunting, fishing and trapping license for a five year period and he was assessed $1,991.00 by the commission. He also must take an Arizona hunter education class before his license privileges can be reinstated.

Sherry Lynn Dixon pleaded guilty to possessing restricted live wildlife (mule deer) and was assessed a $750.00 fine by a justice court. Dixon’s husband had found a mule deer fawn in an irrigation ditch after its mother had run away. Dixon’s husband brought the live fawn to his home, and Dixon called the Arizona Game & Fish Department. Dixon was told to return the fawn to the wild, but she decided to keep the fawn and continue to nurse it back to health. Ultimately, an officer told Dixon she had to release the fawn, but Dixon refused to do so.

Game & Fish seized the fawn and it was taken to the Keepers of the Wild facility in Hackberry.

The commission voted to revoke Dixon’s privilege to buy a hunting, fishing or trapping license in Arizona for five years. She was ordered to take an Arizona hunter education class and she was given a civil assessment for the loss of one mule deer for $1,500.

Carlton Zehr pleaded guilty to obtaining a resident bull elk tag by fraud. Zehr, who is fact a resident of New York, bought an Arizona hunting license and subsequently drew a bull elk tag. Zehr stated he owned property near Florence, Arizona and felt he was an Arizona resident. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Zehr pleaded guilty and was fined $492.00. The commission also revoked his privilege to obtain an Arizona hunting, fishing or trapping license for a period of two years and he was assessed a civil penalty of $709. Zehr also has to take an Arizona hunter education class before his license privileges can be reinstated.

The best advice is to know the laws and not violate them. But the department and commissions knows that sometime inadvertent violations occur. If you make a mistake, the best course of action is to self-report the incident to the department. By doing so you will be saving yourself a lot of time, money and even the loss of license privileges.