- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Arizona couple was convicted on charges of poaching, including the illegal shooting of a trophy-class elk and mule deer, in addition to charges of fraudulently obtaining a hunting and fishing license.

That in itself doesn’t raise many eyebrows nowadays. In some portions of the United States, the poaching of desirable wild game has grown over the years because there are many collectors who will pay top dollar for a trophy animal’s head, particularly for members of the deer family.

In Arizona’s case, what is noteworthy is that these poachers will be the first punished under a new law that allows the state’s Game and Fish Commission to use much tougher penalties.

John Polzin of Show Low, Ariz., pleaded guilty to five charges, including the killing of a mule deer buck without having a license or tag and obtaining a resident hunting and fishing license by fraud. He also pleaded guilty to shooting a bull elk without a license and tag and subsequently possessing an illegally killed elk. His wife, Shelly Polzin, also pleaded guilty to possessing an illegally killed elk and mule deer, plus fraudulently obtaining a hunting and fishing license.

Polzin was fined $16,000 — $8,000 for the loss of the 6x6 (12-point) elk and $8,000 for the loss of the 7x5 (12-point) mule deer buck.

In addition, the Game and Fish Commission revoked the hunting, fishing and trapping privileges of John Polzin for 10 years, while his wife lost her hunting/fishing privileges for five years. When their time is up, the couple must complete an Arizona hunter education course before being allowed to have license privileges restored.

The best part, however, is that the Polzins not only are forbidden to hunt in Arizona, they can’t hunt in 22 other states as well. Arizona is a member of something known as the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact to which 23 states are signatories. Not until their debt is paid will they be able to apply for hunting and fishing licenses in any of the 23 states.

Good show, Arizona.

Like a bad dream, WHA is back — Remember the World Hunting Association (WHA), the group that was going to try a kind of shoot-and-release hunting competition. Well, maybe it’s OK to catch a bass, admire it, then let it go, but what about shooting a deer with a tranquilizer gun, having it tallied in a contest, then turning it loose?

The entire concept was so preposterous that all legitimate national hunting organizations immediately gave a thumbs-down to the WHA. Early sponsors dropped out, press from coast to coast was none too kind to the WHA and everybody kind of thought it would go away.

Not so. Now the WHA says it’s accepting casting calls for a reality TV hunting show. It wants all hunters to know that they are welcome to try out, perhaps even win a pro staff contract and a spot on TV. Runners-up will be invited to come hunting sometime in 2007. The WHA didn’t say whether the hunting includes tranquilizer darts or whether the game actually will be shot, perhaps to provide steaks and chops for dinner.

The association wants potential contestants to send a short video clip that convinces the judges they should be on TV. It also asks for a 1,000-word essay on the future of the hunting industry — whatever that means — and it wants a 300-word article on hunting tips and up to 10 photos of game trophies.

For additional details, go to www.worldhunt.com.

A lucky bald eagle — Had it not been for some caring Maryland Natural Resources Police officers, a bald eagle that had a broken wing and could not provide food for itself would have starved to death. The NRP officers discovered the starving male bird last week in Frederick County. It was quickly transported to the Opossum Pike Veterinary Clinic, where Barbara Stastny and her staff first needed to secure approval to treat a federally protected bird, then went to work and fed the eagle its first meal in what they estimated was two weeks.

The wing was set, but the eagle likely will not be able to fly again and now will spend the rest of its days in comfortable surroundings as a member of the Maryland Park Service’s Scales & Tales educational program.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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