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Woman investigated in Gila monster killing

Posted at 1:30 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 11:28:56-04

Authorities are investigating social media reports of a woman killing a Gila monster.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed that Sarah Crabtree is under investigation connected to a Facebook post in which she appears to have beheaded a Gila monster with a screwdriver.

Crabtree was issued tickets on five counts: 

  • Possession of restricted wildlife.
  • Taking of wildlife without a license.
  • Possession and transportation of unlawfully taken wildlife.
  • Taking of wildlife during closed season.
  • Taking of wildlife by unlawful method.
All crimes are second class misdemeanors punishable by six months in jail and $750 fine.
 
Crabtree was issued a ticket and will appear in Pima County Animal Welfare Court May 5.
 
Gila monsters are a protected species, considered "near threatened" and killing one is considered a crime under state law.

Crabtree, a 26-year-old who lives in Three Points, issued this statment to KGUN9 via the phone.

"I didn't do it just to do it for fun. I did it to protect myself and my family. I saw it when I pulled up to my house. I didn't know what to do, so I panicked. I went out there and killed it. It was on my property and I freaked out. I have dogs -- small puppies -- and an infant child, and I'm fighting to get my two other kids back. I have already had enough death threats.

"I didn't realize they were protected. I don't know anything about reptiles. I never studied them. I didn't know it was illegal to kill them. If I knew, I wouldn't have posted anything or done anything. I wish I hadn't done any of it. I feel bad. I have apologized profusely to people. I feel bad for offending them and everything. I was still getting death threats before deactivating my Facebook. I got more than a dozen."
 
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