Poachers in Roosevelt County and New Mexico are taking shots at a $900 million state industry, and may pay for it with thousands of dollars in fines.
In the past few weeks, two poaching incidents have occurred in the county, with one carcass found on the Texas-New Mexico state line.
“Wildlife is a very valuable commodity,” said Marty Frentzel of the state Department of Game and Fish in Santa Fe. “It is in limited supply, and there are people that will stop at nothing to attain it.”
Because of the high cost of breeding, stocking and care to the department, Frentzel said poaching fines are high — up to $10,000 for illegally taking deer, elk and bighorn sheep and $150 for trout.
Clovis District Wildlife Officer Nathaniel Romeo said eastern New Mexico sees a lot of deer poaching.
“The head can be used to hang on the wall, or they could be worth hundreds of thousand of dollars just for the rack alone,” he said.
Romeo said poaching is a lucrative business, but the state loses money because of it.
Poaching is a growing industry across the U.S., according to The Associated Press, as demand for trophy animals increases.
Poachers kill for heads, racks, hides, meat, organs or just for fun.
In one instance, Frentzel said, Game and Fish officer Ben Byrd in Capitan prosecuted individuals accused of killing animals near Alamogordo. A deer breeder in Oklahoma said one of the people involved had killed a prize buck estimated to be worth $50,000.
“I don’t think the world in general understands the value that is placed on wildlife,” Frentzel said. “This is just one example of how a few bad apples can do an incredible amount of damage, and they just don’t do it in their home state.”