Clovis men convicted of unlawful hunting

RATON – Eight Clovis men will pay penalties and fines totaling $7,189 after pleading guilty to numerous poaching and other charges, including killing a deer and turkey out of season and hunting without licenses.

Department of Game and Fish officers caught the men hunting on the Elliott Barker Wildlife Area north of Cimarron on Nov. 10, 2014, when the area was closed to hunting. The men appeared before Raton Magistrate Warren Walton on Feb. 4 and pleaded guilty to 13 of an original 34 charges, which included unlawful hunting and unlawful killing and illegal possession of a deer and turkey. Penalties included fines, court costs, civil penalties and donations to Operation Game Thief. Several paid additional fines and had to surrender their rifles because they already had one or more wildlife-law offenses.

Many other charges were also filed in the case, including negligent use of a deadly weapon due to drinking while hunting. The party also was driving on closed roads with off-highway vehicles.

A hunter who had been scouting in the area alerted officers after he saw a large hunting camp with a deer hanging from a tree. The hunter knew that the area had no current hunting seasons open at that time and called the Operation Game Thief hotline. Officers went to the area and found eight men, all with rifles, actively hunting. Three of them held licenses for Game Management Unit 34, near Cloudcroft. They were hunting in Game Management Unit 55.

“Thanks to an aware citizen, we were able to make this case,” Sgt. Kyle Jackson said. “We depend on responsible hunters to help us protect New Mexico’s wildlife resources.”

If you have information about unlawful hunting, fishing or trapping, please contact the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline, 800-432-4263. Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to charges being filed.

<em>— Staff report</em>