Here’s an interesting ethical question: if you unknowingly commit a wildlife violation, realize your mistake and then report yourself, should you be rewarded for your honesty and given a slap on the wrist or should you be forced to pay the fine? That’s the scenario playing out in Arizona, where a state game and fish commissioner who self-reported his wildlife violation is a bit upset that he may be charged for the offense he reported…

From this story in the Arizona Republic:
Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Jack Husted has been cited for reportedly shooting a prairie dog out of season, according to Round Valley Justice Court records. Husted has pleaded not guilty to a class 2 misdemeanor. Husted said he was looking for rabbits to shoot with the son of a family friend on April 9. He didn’t see any, but then the pair came across some Gunnison Prairie Dogs. After seven or eight misses, the 13-year-old shot the animal, Husted said. But these animals cannot be hunted after April 1._

According to the story, when Husted found out that prairie dog season was closed, he went to the commission director and reported his violation. According to department policy, Husted must be cited for the violation, which could result in fines and (theoretically) jail time. And that’s when things got a little complicated. Apparently, Husted wasn’t happy about the possibility of actually being punished for his inadvertent crime, so he pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing later this month. As for the game and fish commission, they laud Husted’s honesty and integrity, and say there’s no way Husted will lose his license or his position.

Apparently, though, Husted’s still a bit miffed.

From the story: But Husted isn’t happy about the department’s decision to ticket him. “I think it’s a little heavy-handed,” he said. “Rather than being rewarded (for self-reporting), I was disciplined. I’m looking forward to my day in court.”

Thoughts? What say you? You are, after all, Chief Justice of the Court of Public Opinion, so how would you rule on this ethical conundrum?