Friday, December 19, 2008

Following criminal conviction, Malik fined nearly $15k, loses right to hunt in 32 states including Michigan


Michigan man assessed $14,995 for killing trophy elk near homes

PINETOP, AZ -- Michael J. Malik, a Michigan resident, appeared before the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its December meeting in Casa Grande for shooting a trophy-quality, 7x7 bull elk too close to residential property without landowner permission.

After hearing his statement, the commission voted to civilly assess Malik $14,995 for the state’s loss of the 408-point, velvet-antlered elk. The commission also revoked his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in Arizona for five years, and he must successfully complete a hunter education course prior to having his license privileges restored.

The commission’s action to revoke Malik’s license for five years has far-reaching implications. Arizona is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact with 32 other states, including all western states and Malik’s home state of Michigan. Until his license privileges are restored in Arizona, he will not be able to legally hunt in any of those 32 states.

Malik paid $135,000 at an auction for Arizona’s 2006-07 “special” elk tag at a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation annual convention. Special tag holders have the added privilege of pursuing their designated big game for one full year.

In the early hours of July 26, 2007, Malik, assisted by four companions, including Arizona elk guide John McClendon, shot, wounded and eventually killed the bull in a privately owned meadow in the Morgan Flat area east of Pinetop. While on patrol, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s wildlife manager in Unit 3B, Shawn Wagner, heard the initial shot and responded to investigate. He found the Malik hunting party and wounded bull in close proximity to several occupied houses where the property owners were upset with Malik hunting and shooting near their homes.

Wagner determined the homeowners had not been approached nor had they granted permission for Malik to hunt on their property. Wagner seized the bull and cited Malik for shooting violations. Shooting a firearm within a quarter-mile of an occupied building while taking wildlife without permission from the owner is a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

After several pre-trial conferences and continuances, Malik was found guilty in the Pinetop Justice Court on Aug. 29, 2008, of discharging a firearm within the quarter-mile limit of occupied residences while taking elk. The criminal conviction authorized the commission to take civil action against Malik.

“This incident is more a private property and public safety violation than it is a wildlife crime. The court and commission decisions are a strong reminder to all hunters about the importance of hunter awareness and safety and respecting the rights of private property owners and rural residents,” says Jim Hinkle, law enforcement program manager at the department’s Pinetop office.

The department donated the edible portions of the elk carcass to Shepherd’s Kitchen, a charitable organization in Snowflake. The antlers and cape remain in custody of the department pending the outcome of an appeal to the Pinetop Justice Court decision by Malik.

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