LOVINGTON ― Two men pleaded guilty to killing mule deer out of season, unlawful possession, tampering with evidence and other charges filed against them in Lovington District Court last December.
Both men received probation and were ordered earlier this month to pay $2,400 in fines, $330 in court fees and forfeit their rifles.
It all started Dec. 28, 2017 when Hobbs District Officer Andrew Jolliff received a tip from the Operation Game Thief hotline — a number set up by the Department of Game and Fish for the public to report poachers — about a deer that was killed illegally on Christmas Day. The tipster mentioned that the deer had been butchered and was buried near an oil rig in Lea County.
After an investigation, two suspects admitted to killing more than one mule deer each — two does and a forked antler buck. Officer Jolliff seized the antlers, the meat the men had processed from the deer, both of the men’s rifles and arrested one of the men.
“It was thanks to a tip to Operation Game Thief that this conviction was able to occur,” Capt. Andy Gray said. “We encourage members of the public to report poachers to the department. The key to helping conservation officers track down poachers and protect our wildlife is to report the information as quickly as possible.”
Both men admitted they did not think there would be a game warden working on Christmas and did not believe they would be caught.
If you see or suspect a wildlife crime, call the 24-hour Operation Game Thief hotline at 1.800.432.GAME. You can remain anonymous and can earn a monetary reward.