Department of Game and Fish officers caught the men hunting on the Elliott Barker Wildlife Area north of Cimarron on Nov. 10, 2014, when the area was closed to hunting. The men appeared before Raton Magistrate Warren Walton on Feb. 4 and pleaded guilty to 13 of an original 34 charges, which included unlawful hunting and unlawful killing and illegal possession of a deer and turkey. Penalties included fines, court costs, civil penalties and donations to Operation Game Thief.
A hunter who had been scouting in the area alerted officers after he saw a large hunting camp with a deer hanging from a tree. The hunter knew that the area had no current hunting seasons open at that time and called the Operation Game Thief hotline. Officers went to the area and found eight men, all with rifles, actively hunting. Three of them held licenses for Game Management Unit 34, near Cloudcroft. They were hunting in Game Management Unit 55.
“Thanks to an aware citizen, we were able to make this case,” Sgt. Kyle Jackson said. “We depend on responsible hunters to help us protect New Mexico’s wildlife resources.”
- Rafael Flores Sr., 57, who killed a deer and a turkey, and Edgar Flores, 35, held licenses in GMU 34 for the same hunt period. Both said they thought they had drawn the Barker WMA but never checked their licenses. Rafael Flores, Sr. was fined $1,000 plus $232 court costs and paid a voluntary civil assessment of $250 for the deer and $150 for the turkey. He also surrendered his rifle. Edgar Flores was fined $2,000 plus $179 court costs for unlawful hunting. His penalty was enhanced because it was his third wildlife-law offense. He also surrendered his rifle.
- Antonio Flores, 22, held a license for GMU 34 but for an October hunt period. He was fined $1,200 plus $126 court costs, an enhanced penalty because it was his second wildlife-law offense.
- Joel Flores, 45, had a license for GMU 34 that belonged to his son. He was fined $500 plus $179 court costs.
- Rafael Flores Jr., 32, Juan Rojo, 26, Erasmo Ortega, 34 and Samuel Orrantia, 47, were hunting without licenses. Flores Jr. agreed to donate $500 to Operation Game Thief; Rojo was fined $400 plus $73 court costs; and Ortega and Orrantia each agreed to donate $200 to Operation Game Thief.
If you have information about unlawful hunting, fishing or trapping, please contact the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline, (800) 432-4263. Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to charges being filed.