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The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a reward up to $500 to anyone with information on the illegal shooting of a pregnant mule deer.

The deer carcass was found in a wash north of the Butcher Jones recreation area at Saguaro Lake on July 10, after a report of shots fired. Her fawn was nearly full term, according to Amy Burnett, the department’s spokeswoman.

“We’re not calling it a definite poaching at this point,” Burnett said. “However, it was shot. We’d like to find out what the exact story was.”

Deer hunting is illegal in July.

Hunting season in Arizona is scheduled to avoid the time of year that fawns are born and the months after where the orphaning fawns stay with their mothers, said Laura Orscheln, the department’s wildlife manager. Hunting seasons and regulations can be found on the Arizona Game and Fish website.

The deer population is managed closely by the Game and Fish Department to ensure their numbers are healthy and sustainable, Burnett said. 

“When deer is taken outside of that season, it has implications for the populations,” she said.

Orscheln said losing a pregnant doe that was nearly full term equates to the loss of not only two deer from the population, but the doe’s potential generations of offspring, as well.

Arizona Game and Fish considers the current number of mule deer in the Saguaro Lake area to be healthy.

The department’s Operation Game Thief program is seeking the public’s help for information. A reward up to $500 is available to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

“It is a fairly populated area, so we’re hoping someone there recreating that evening might know something that could help solve this case,” Burnett said.

Callers to the Operation Game Thief Hotline — toll-free at 1-800-352-0700 — should reference case number 17-002615 and can remain anonymous.


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