New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Rachel Shockley, (505) 476-8071; cell: (505) 470-6832
Public contact: (888) 248-6866
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 14, 2014
OPERATION GAME THIEF TIP LEADS TO THE SEIZURE OF MORE THAN A THOUSAND TROUT
CLOVIS – After receiving a tip from a concerned citizen, Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officers found and seized more than 1,600 rainbow trout, more than 160 times the legal possession limit, in a Clovis home Saturday, May 10. The tip came through the department’s anonymous tip line, Operation Game Thief.
Bounchanh Bounsombath of Clovis was arrested Monday, May 12, after department officers executed a search warrant at a home on North Connelly Street. Bounsombath, 62, admitted to catching all the fish at Green Acres Lake and Denis Chaves Pond in northwest Clovis.
“Never in my whole career have I encountered this before,” Col. Robert Griego said. “The extreme excess of this case is aggravating. The department stocks these fish for all sportsmen and women, young and old, with the desire that everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the fish.”
The department regularly stocks rainbow trout during the winter and spring months at Green Acres and Denis Chaves to provide local fishing opportunities in Clovis. Department hatchery workers released approximately 10,000 rainbow trout into Green Acres and Denis Chaves between November 2013 and March 2014.
Daily bag and possession limits help ensure opportunities for everyone. Licensed anglers may catch and keep up to five rainbow trout per day and may possess up to 10 rainbow trout at their residence.
“A single call to Operation Game Thief resulted in Department Conservation officers seizing more than 1,600 illegally possessed trout,” Griego said. “If concerned citizens notice suspicious activity, even if they think it is something small, we encourage them to report it right away.”
Bounsombath was booked into the Curry County Detention Center. His bond was set at $2,500. The department will seek $8,000 in civil restitution for the state to recover the loss of the trout.
A tip to Operation Game Thief led to citations and Bounsombath pleading guilty to charges of unlawful possession of rainbow trout and exceeding the bag limit in the Clovis Magistrate court in 2013.
Anyone with information about wildlife crimes is encouraged to call Operation Game Thief, (800) 432-4263. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to charges being filed.