State asks for help solving bat killings - East Valley Tribune: News

State asks for help solving bat killings

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Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:00 pm | Updated: 2:45 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

State wildlife officials are asking for the public's help in solving the killing of 89 bats in an abandoned mine in the Superstition Mountains near Gold Canyon.

The Mexican free-tail bats were shot and left to die in the mine sometime between April 1 and April 10 near the popular Peralta trailhead in Pinal County.

"This is a blatant example of disrespect for wildlife, and the laws that are established to protect the state's wildlife," Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Manager Dana McGehee said in a statement.

Anyone with information should call Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700. Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500 in this case. All calls may remain confidential upon request, the department said.

The closed and abandoned mine is located roughly within a mile of the Peralta trailhead, but authorities declined to pinpoint the exact location for public safety reasons.

The shooter or shooters could face a number of charges, including the killing of protected wildlife and the harassment of wildlife, said Randy Babb, a Game and Fish spokesman.

Bats are not subject to hunting in Arizona, he said.

The Mexican free-tail species is one of 28 species of bats in Arizona. Wildlife officials credit the flying mammals with keeping insects in check and pollinating cactuses and agaves.

Mexican free-tail bats are found throughout Arizona in the summer; most migrate south in the winter. For more about bats, visit www.azgfd.gov/bats.

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