The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for help to solve a case involving the unlawful killing of nearly 90 bats in an abandoned mine in the Superstition Mountains.
Officials said they are offering a reward in the case.
The Mexican free-tail bats were shot and left in the mine to die near the Peralta Trailhead sometime between April 1st and 10th, according to Game and Fish officials.
"This is a blatant example of disrespect for wildlife, and the laws that are established to protect the state's wildlife," said Wildlife Manager, Dana McGehee. "We need help from the public to catch the suspects.
Anyone with information about the killings can call the department's Operation Game Thief hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700.
Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500, Game and Fish officials said.
"Unlawful killing of any wildlife is considered a major loss for the residents of Arizona and our wildlife resources," McGehee said.
Game and Fish officials said Arizona is home to 28 bat species, including two species that are nectar-feeders and pollinate plants like the saguaro and agaves. Mexican free-tailed bats are found throughout Arizona in the summer and most migrate south in the winter. They eat many different types of insects, including mosquitoes and many crop pests. The nectar-feeding bats are important pollinators of cacti and agaves.