A Show Low couple convicted of multiple violations relating to the poaching of a trophy-class elk and a mule deer became the first violators to feel the effects of a new law on the books allowing the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to employ tougher penalties, especially for repeat or gross offenders.
John D. Polzin was civilly assessed a total of $16,000: $8,000 for the loss of a 6x6 bull elk and $8,000 for the loss of a 7x5 mule deer buck to the state. In order to quantify the loss of the trophy animals to the State of Arizona, the Game and Fish Department enlisted the help of an official appraiser.
In addition, the Game and Fish Commission revoked the hunting, fishing and trapping privileges of John Polzin for 10 years and Shelly L. Polzin for five years (the maximum possible for each case). The Polzins must also successfully complete an Arizona hunter education course prior to having their license privileges restored in this state.
But the commission's action to revoke their licenses has more far-reaching implications for the Polzins. Arizona is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact with 22 other states.
For the Polzins, that means they will not be able to legally hunt in any of those states until their license privileges are restored in Arizona.
The action by the Game and Fish Commission in the Polzin case would not have been possible had it not been for the newly-bolstered wildlife law, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, which was passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Janet Napolitano in May of 2006.
This new law, which took effect in September, creates a system of civil assessments and license revocations based on the number of convictions an individual has for unlawfully taking or wounding wildlife.
The new law also allows the Game and Fish Commission to permanently revoke or suspend a person's hunting privileges for various offenses, including unlawfully taking trophy or endangered species.
Wildlife Manager Robert Birkland, the investigating officer in the case, says the Game and Fish Commission sent a strong message that Arizona's wildlife is a valuable asset owned by the people of Arizona.