NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A Sandoval County judge has ordered a hunter to pay $74,000 in restitution to the state for deer poaching. Cody Davis of North Dakota was ordered to pay after killing a mule deer out of season and without a license.
Game & Fish reports the restitution included $20,000 for the mule deer killed out of season and another $54,000 in reimbursement to the department for the extensive investigation that was required for the case. The restitution is in addition to Davis’ criminal conviction that included a $3,000 donation to Operation Game Thief.
Operation Game Thief launched an investigation in late 2015 after receiving a tip. The department states officers searched the area and located a large headless mule deer buck near Lindrith, New Mexico.
Officers also were able to locate the stashed severed head and conducted almost 24/7 surveillance in the area. Game & Fish reports Davis led surveillance officers down Highway 550 near Bernalillo to the bridge over the Rio Grande where he then dumped the trophy head.
A grid search by conservation officers and biologists for two weeks led to the recovery of the head which officials say scored 232 7/8″ on the Safari Club International system. Officers worked with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to serve a search warrant to Davis that resulted in a full confession according to the department.
Game & Fish reports Davis has an extensive history of game law violations in New Mexico that date back to 2000. Game and Fish says investigators logged more than 2,000 hours and drove 25,000 miles to figure out what happened.
Individuals with information regarding wildlife crimes are encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 800-432-4263.