SANTA FE, N.M. — The scene is all too familiar for New Mexicos game wardens.
While investigating a report of possible poaching, the officer finds a carcass of what once was a trophy deer, elk or antelope — head removed, the meat left to rot.
It’s a sickening sight for an officer commissioned to protect the state’s wildlife. It’s also frustrating. The officer knows that even if the poacher is caught, he or she would face only misdemeanor penalties.
State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Valencia, hopes to change that by introducing legislation that would make trophy poaching resulting in wanton waste of game a felony punishable by substantial fines and jail time.
“We want to send poachers a message that stealing the state’s wildlife, whether for the thrill or for profit, is a serious crime with serious consequences,” Baldonado said. “We want to stop the waste.”
A fourth-degree felony could include penalties of 18 months in jail and a fine up to $5,000.