New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JAN. 21, 2010:
Two Taos-area men face criminal charges for allegedly hunting deer out of season near Valle Escondido in northern New Mexico.
Miguel Martinez, 30, of Taos, is accused of shooting and wounding a deer Dec. 16 while he was on his way to work, and then returning to area later to search for the animal. Michael Trujillo, 47, of El Prado, allegedly accompanied Martinez at the time of the shooting.
Alert Department of Game and Fish Officers discovered the crime after they spotted a suspicious vehicle and footprints leading into the forest. Officers followed the footprints in the snow and determined that the person who made the tracks was following a wounded deer. Officers said they contacted Martinez, who allegedly admitted to shooting at a deer out of season with a small-caliber rifle. The deer carcass was not recovered.
Martinez was charged with hunting during a closed season. His hunting and fishing licenses had been revoked because of earlier fishing violations. He faces possible additional charges and a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,200 fine if convicted of the deer hunting charge.
Trujillo was charged as an accessory. Arraignments for both men are pending in Taos Magistrate Court.
New Mexico law provides for criminal and civil penalties, and forfeiture of weapons used to illegally kill, hunt, wound or other taking of protected wildlife. Violators with prior convictions face increased fines and jail sentences.
Conservation Officer James Pengelly said officers are especially vigilant about poaching during the deer "rut" or breeding season, when the animals are most vulnerable.
"Many of the larger bucks become less wary this time of year, and they are easy targets for a poacher," Pengelly said. "Poachers need to know that we're out there watching and listening. The deer they shoot at just might be one of our electronic decoys, or the guy cutting wood on the side of the road might be a warden working plain clothes."
If you have information about wildlife crimes, please call your local conservation officer or Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-GAME (4263). All callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards for information leading an arrest or charges being filed.
GRANTS -- The Department of Game and Fish is offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of a poacher who killed a bull elk and left it to rot in a field near Grants.
The elk was found recently about a half-mile beyond locked gates on the Alfredo Mirabal Estate Ranch south of Grants. The elk, which has a set of unique antlers, was last seen alive before hunting season.
“Based on the evidence at the scene, the elk probably died sometime between October and November,” said Craig Sanchez, conservation officer for the Grants district.