By Thomas Garcia
CMI staff writer
Poaching is a greater threat to future deer population in Curry or Roosevelt counties and across the state than any effects caused by drought, according to New Mexico Game and Fish officials.
Game and Fish officials are investigating 22 cases across the state involving elk, deer and antelope carcasses found headless and left to rot, however, none of them are in Roosevelt or Curry counties, according to Game Warden Clay Moyers.
Department officers are running road blocks across the state to check for illegal hunting activity and to gather data about harvest success.
They also are deploying artificial elk and deer in the field to catch poachers who try to shoot illegally at night or from the road.
Game and Fish officials say New Mexico has stiffer poaching civil penalties of up to $10,000.
New Mexico’s deer season runs from September to mid-January and includes separate seasons for different weapons
Buff said rifle deer season ends before December when the mule deer bucks begin their rut (matting season); this will increase the frequency of sightings for the larger trophy bucks that are chasing after does. He said typically this is when a majority of the illegal killing of trophy animals occurs. There have been incidents across the state where trophy deer (bucks) are shot in December and the hunter will remove their heads and dump the bodies.
Buff said the animals are being killed before they have the chance to breed, which prevents the trophy bucks genes from being passed on with the potential to produce future game stock. He said this trophy killing if continued could ultimately greatly reduce the number of game stock in the state.
Buff said reports generated by department biologist, who collect data and harvest surveys across the that indicate whether a hunter harvested a deer during their hunt helps to determine the amount of deer that were taken during the season and what remains in the wild.
Moyers said the wildlife of the state, including the deer, have been placed into the public trust, so when a hunter poaches a game animal they are essentially stealing from the public. He said the money generated from game hunting is filtered back to the state.
Hunting violations can be reported to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 24-hours a day at 1-800-432-4263