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Kurt Bahti, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Region 5 Tucson wildlife manager supervisor, received the 2008 Shikar-Safari Club’s Officer of the Year Award for Arizona for his lifelong service and impeccable record.
Bahti, a 30-year veteran, has more than 20 years experience as a field-training officer impacting a generation of new wildlife managers in Arizona. He draws from his vast experience in weapons identification, animal tracking, animal trapping, livestock brand identification, interview and interrogation, and his intimate knowledge of the region.
By blending his vast knowledge of proven techniques passed on by game rangers before him with the modern-day methods of wildlife management, Bahti has become one of the most respected and successful field officers in the department. As a leader, he is passionate, hard working, and has a genuine love for the state’s wildlife resources.
“It’s truly an honor to receive this award alongside so many other well respected officers,” said Bahti.
When asked to what he attributes his success, Bahti replied, “You can’t treat this as just a job; it’s a way of life.”
Bahti’s “way-of-life” attitude has garnered him many awards during his tenure, including the Cliff Sorrells FOP Officer of the Year Award, the Coronado National Forest Resource Conservation and Development Special Recognition Award, the FOP Lodge 32 Officer of the Year, and many Arizona Game and Fish Department commendations for excellence.
Awards aside, one thing that stands out is his commitment to his fellow employees. Bahti is well known for never asking his people to do something he is not willing to do himself – another sign of a great leader and officer.
Here are just a few examples of his accomplishments:
- Since 1994, cases in which he has been involved have netted over $50,000 in fine monies and civil assessments, and 125 years of license revocation.
- Made some of the department’s most important wildlife cases, including a case involving multiple violations of the state’s trapping laws. The results shaped how the department issues trapping licenses and changed, for the better, the way field officers worked with trappers.
- Employed inventive interrogation techniques on a poaching case of a 402-inch trophy bull elk that resulted in criminal fines of $14,000, an $11,000 civil assessment, and a total of 10 years of license revocation for the two subjects.
- In the absence of a regional investigator, Bahti carried out the investigation that resulted in the arrest and conviction of several repeat offenders and the seizure of multiple weapons and illegally taken game meat.
The Shikar-Safari Club International was founded in 1952 for the purpose of advancing knowledge concerning wildlife of the world. Each year, the group honors one officer from each of the 50 states for service during the previous year that demonstrated outstanding performance and achievement among the state agency’s sworn law enforcement personnel.
The award was presented to Bahti during the April 18 Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting by Joe Melden of the Shikar-Safari Club International and Donna “Didi” Foss of the Joe Foss Institute.