New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, APRIL 24, 2008:

MAY 1 LINCOLN FOREST CLOSURE WILL SEND TURKEY HUNTERS ELSEWHERE
CARLSBAD MEN CONVICTED OF POACHING BARBARY SHEEP

MAY 1 LINCOLN FOREST CLOSURE WILL SEND TURKEY HUNTERS ELSEWHERE

ALAMOGORDO -- The May 1 closure of the Lincoln National Forest will send spring turkey hunters looking for birds in other areas of the state for the last 10 days of the 2008 season.

Forest officials said the closure, which will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 1, is necessary because of extremely dry conditions and increasing fire danger forest-wide. Spring turkey season opened April 15 and runs through May 10 in most areas of the state.

Although many public and private campgrounds and all major roads through the Lincoln National Forest will remain open, forest roads, trails and most recreation sites will be closed. Access to the forest will be prohibited, with few exceptions.

Hunters displaced by the closure can find plenty of birds in other areas of the state, including the Gila National Forest, and the Jemez and Pecos country in the Santa Fe National Forest. Hunters are encouraged to get the latest information about fire restrictions and closures in advance of their trip.

Information about fire restrictions and closures statewide is available on the Southwest Area Wildlife Fire Operations website, www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire or by calling toll-free (877) 864-6985.

For more information about the Fire Closure Order or the Lincoln National Forest, please contact the Supervisor’s Office at (575) 434-7200, or one of the following District Offices at:

-- Smokey Bear Ranger District: (575) 257-4095.

-- Sacramento Ranger District Office: (575) 682-2551.

-- Carlsbad Ranger District Office: (575) 885-4181.

All offices are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Please visit the Lincoln National Forest website at:  www.fs.fed.us/r3/lincoln.

The Department of Game and Fish also reminds hunters that several game management units in southeastern New Mexico are closed to spring turkey hunting. These areas are closed to hunting to protect new turkey populations established by reintroductions by the Department.

The Department has released Merriam turkeys into the Guadalupe Mountains of Unit 30 in an attempt to supplement existing flocks. Rio Grande turkeys have been released into several areas of Units 31, 32, and 33 along the Pecos, Black, and Delaware Rivers. Once the Department has determined that the turkey populations in these areas have increased enough to handle sport harvest, hunting may be allowed.

Department officers will be patrolling those areas where turkeys have been released in the closed units. Please see the 2008-2009 Big-Game Rules and Information Booklet for details. For more information, please call the Department's office in Roswell, (575) 624-6135.

CARLSBAD MEN CONVICTED OF POACHING BARBARY SHEEP

CARLSBAD -- Two Carlsbad area men convicted of poaching Barbary sheep in the Brokeoff Mountains of southeastern New Mexico will pay $1,750 each in fines and civil penalties.

Magistrate Richard Van Dyke ordered Clint Hughes, 28, and Jerry Vannatta, 24, both of the Carlsbad area, each to pay a $1,000 fine for failure to tag barbary sheep and a $500 fine for wanton waste of game. Each man also paid $250 to the state in civil penalties for the loss of two Barbary sheep rams.

Clint Hughes, 28, and Jerry Vannatta, 24, both of the Carlsbad area, were charged with two counts each of failure to tag Barbary sheep and wanton waste of Barbary sheep. Both men had valid Barbary sheep hunting licenses in their possession when they were interviewed by Department of Game and Fish officers.

According to Department reports, other hunters contacted officers after they witnessed two hunters shoot two Barbary sheep rams and leave the carcasses to rot. Witnesses said the hunters shot 20 times at the fleeing sheep, and then took pictures and ate lunch next to two dead rams before leaving the area.

Witnesses flagged down Conservation Officer Adam Wright, directed him to the dead rams and gave him a description of the suspects' vehicle. Hughes and Vanatta later confessed to killing the sheep when interviewed by Officer Terry Nelson.

Anyone with information about poaching incidents is encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-GAME (4263). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to charges being filed.


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