Three hunting-focused conservation groups are ponying up thousands of dollars for details about a poaching crime that occurred in Arizona back in January. The incident involved a desert bighorn sheep, which was shot and left to rot in Arizona’s Game Management Unit 39. The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, the Arizona Deer Association, and the Arizona Antelope Foundation are offering $6,000 to anyone with inside information that leads to an arrest in the case.

Arizona Game & Fish (AZGF) announced the award in a press release issued late last week. The state game agency is throwing in an additional $500, the press release states, bringing the award total to $6,500.

“There is no justifiable reason to poach an animal during a closed season and leave it to waste,” said Travis Clarkson, a wildlife manager working in AZGF’s Yuma region. “Poachers are not hunters or sportsmen; they are criminals who are stealing from the residents of Arizona.”

Clarkson believes poachers killed the sheep sometime during the weekend of Jan. 13, 2024. Wardens found the carcass in agricultural field north of the town of Gila Bend. “Due to the location of the crime scene, a hunter, an off-highway vehicle user, or a field worker near the area may have seen something or heard something that may assist officers in solving this case,” he said.

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Desert bighorns inhabit steep terrain throughout the American Southwest. According to the National Park Service, they’re highly adapted to thrive in arid climates, like those found in the Grand Canyon and the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Anyone with information about the recent poaching case near Gila Bend should call AZGF’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at 1-800-352-0700.