ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico Game and Fish has caught and charged dozens of people trying to play the system. With hunting season well underway, any seasoned hunter will tell you, it’s a competitive process to try and get a big game license. Not only are they competing against in-state hunters, but they are also going up against out-of-state hunters.
“Out of state hunters definitely do take a big amount of our tags,” says Dale Reid.
Fraudulent activity has made it even harder because some out of state hunters are lying so that they can get an in-state hunting license.
“It’s better for the residents because it is cheaper they offer packages for hunting small game and fish they offer in a package for out of staters it does cost more,” Reid says.
For example, a New Mexico resident pays $90 for a bull elk while out-of-state hunters pay $548. For a bighorn sheep, residents pay $160 and non-residents pay $3,178.
New Mexico Game and Fish officials say they had more than 400 suspicious license applications this year.
“After the draw is complete our officers go through everybody who received a draw tag and look through those to make sure everybody is doing what they say they’re doing,” says Tristanna Bickford.
Investigators found 45 clear cases of fraud they’ve filed charges in all of them. They say there are always clear red flags.
“So if you apply for a license saying that you’re a resident but don’t have a driver’s license from New Mexico, or may have an address that seems a little bit suspicious using a work address instead of a home address,” Bickford says.
Local hunters say its a frustrating situation. “That’s fraud… so that’s going to be something I definitely don’t approve. I feel like the state should crack down more on that.”
In order to apply for a resident license, you have to live in New Mexico for at least 90 days.
New Mexico Game and Fish just pressed charges against a man who was transferred to the state as part of his job. Had he waited the required 90 days, he wouldn’t be in trouble right now.
Applying for a resident license when you live out of state is a misdemeanor charge, but you can also lose your hunting privileges for up to three years.