Game & Fish offers reward for arrest
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has determined that the probable cause of death for approximately 80 bats found dead or dying the week of Dec. 27 beneath the Speedway Bridge over the Pantano Wash died from ballistic trauma caused by a BB gun.
Eleven bats examined at a department lab in Phoenix bore signs of physical trauma consistent with being shot with a 4-millemeter BB gun; three such BBs were recovered from their bodies.
A fourth BB and similar trauma were found during necropsies of four bats performed by a U.S. Geological Survey lab in Madison, Wisc., which ruled out White Nose Syndrome as the cause of death. Also, rabies was previously ruled out as the cause of death by the Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix.
The remaining bats removed from the scene by the Pima Animal Care Center also exhibited physical trauma consistent with the finding. Trauma apparent in the necropsies ranged from mild to severe, with seven fractured wings, one spinal fracture, one leg fracture, two “through-and-through” entrance and exit wounds on opposite sides of the body, and four cases of generalized wing trauma.
“This is an especially cruel case, given the number of animals killed outright or apparently mortally wounded by BBs ricocheting around beneath the bridge. Quick escape from the concrete expansion joints of the bridge that the bats inhabit would have been difficult,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of AGFD. “We are now conducting a criminal investigation and actively seeking information leading to full prosecution of whoever is responsible.”
The AGFD Operation Game Thief Program is offering a $750 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Individuals with information should call 1-800-352-0700, anonymously if need be, and reference OGT# 11-000017.
Calls are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information also may be provided through www.azgfd.gov/thief. Illegally taking non-game wildlife is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of four months in jail and $750 fine. Civil penalties may also apply.