Jun 21, 2013 2:11 PM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - Arizona Game & Fish is investigating the poaching of a mountain lion after the animal's body was found in near a campground site in Colossal Cave Park.
State officials were alerted to two possible sightings of mountain lions June 10th but it wasn't until June 12th that at least one cougar was found dead after it was shot multiple times.
"We have physical evidence, solid leads and persons of interest in the case," said Arizona Game & Fish spokesman Mark Hart.
Details about the incident remain slim but investigators believe the person or persons responsible for the poaching did not have justified cause. The mountain lion was not believed to have been aggressive.
"We do not believe that the individuals involved were in imminent threat of attack or had lost livestock," Hart said.
The location of the incident raises red flags as well, occurring within a county park.
"If it was taken within the confines of a park, the shooting would have occurred within a quarter mile of an occupied structure and that's illegal. If it was outside the confines of a park, it's in an area where the only hunting of mountain lions permitted is with bow and arrow," Hart said.
Those responsible for the killing could face multiple charges, with the possibility of looking at fines up to $1,500 and the revocation of their hunting license for life.
State law permits the killing of mountain lions in the area only if the animal is aggressive and is deemed a threat to the safety of people or is responsible for the killing of livestock.
Investigators are asking for the public's help with this case. If you have any information or know anything that could help Game & Fish get to the bottom of this poaching, you can call "Operation Game Thief" at 1-800-352-0700