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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:43 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:53 pm
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Thanks to Rudy DiGiacinto for the heads up on this.

A father and son are hunting Javelina in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, outside Tucson, when they were attacked by a mountain lion. They shot the attacking lion. Then the nightmare begins. Story link: They are charged with a tagging violation by a State Agent AND have their hunting licences revoked. Enter our own member Dave Hardy, who takes on the case. I interviewed Dave last night.

GL: You said that fish and wildlife violated their own policy?

Hardy: Yes, the regulations say that you can only revoke for certain specific offenses, for example, if you’re charging the take of an animal, you have to show that it was willful or reckless and you can’t revoke for letting someone else use your tag on game., but they went ahead and revoked anyway on those grounds, I suspect, without even realizing it.

GL: Is there any provision in the law for self defense?

Hardy: Yes. The Arizona law makes a very clear provision that self defense against wildlife is not unlawful take of wildlife, so I think they’re covered there.

GL: I understand, from the story in Courthouse News, that there was a neutral observer to this and he stated that this was an attack upon the father and son. Did the game agent take his statement?

Hardy: It’s pretty interesting. There were two people watching, one through a telescope. They were also hunting Javalina. And they confirmed that they saw, in one case, the mountain lion, in one case he could only see a large animal stalking and approaching Mr. Reed.

When the State Agent wrote up his report there was no mention of self defense and no mention of the witnesses other than someone called them on their cell phones to say they’d seen an animal taken. It was only when they’d gotten the Federal Agent’s report that we discovered that, in fact, there were two eye witnesses who had confirmed the self defense. And the Federal Agent said that the State Agent said that he would write up the violation using the special ( emphasis added) verbiage that would enable him to get their licenses revoked.

GL: Did the Federal Agent make an official report to the State Agent or was this only an ancillary report after the official report?

Hardy: Mr. Reed discovered it before the suit was filed. The Federal Agent did not give his report to the State Agent. He reported within his own agency and based on that report we moved for a re-hearing before the Game and Fish Commission. And they, by a vote of 3-2 declined to grant re-hearing.

GL: Why do you think they voted not to re-hear?

Hardy: At the initial hearing, at least one of the Commissioners had asked why the Reed’s did not mention self defense - it didn’t show up in the State Agent’s report. And they replied that they had said it and that for some reason, that they didn’t understand, it didn’t make it to his report. So I thought that would have been a pivotal issue in terms of granting a re-hearing. Some of the people on the Commission, as I recall, saw the issue as miss-use of a tag, because the fellow who shot the mountain lion didn’t have a mountain lion tag, his father did, they put the father’s tag on it before driving it to Tucson to get it tested for rabies. That was the basis they gave. Now, as I’ve said, you can’t revoke a license for a tagging violation. So I think they clearly should have granted re-hearing.

GL: What agency was the Federal Agent from?

Hardy: That was an agent from the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. He had also reported to the scene where the hunters were talking to the State Agent.

GL: He refused to get involved or file any charges?

Hardy: Yes, he told the State Agent that since there was an issue of self defense and witnesses, he could, at most, charge a tag violation. And the State Agent then said “let me take the case and I’ll get their licenses revoked”.

GL: Was the mountain lion checked for rabies when they took it back to Tucson?

Hardy: No, and that is one of the points that has the hunters quite upset. They specifically asked for it to be checked for rabies and the information they now have is, it was boiled down for its skull and its hide was taken and nobody bothered to run a check for rabies.

GL: Is a rabies test standard in a case like this?

Hardy: I believe the Agency policy is you check for rabies always under those conditions. I’ve heard no reason why they didn’t.

GL: What is the status of the suit?

Hardy: We have to file the papers on the State Agency, they will file an answer and at that point we’ll finally set a date for trial.

Dave Vann

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