FORT SUMNER — A Fort Sumner man was jailed and charged with 16 counts of wildlife-related crimes in connection with the alleged poaching of 12 deer.
A search warrant was executed Jan. 27, 2009, at the residence of Loy Minton, 25, by Department of Game and Fish officers and a deputy from the De Baca County Sheriff’s Office. The search warrant was secured based upon information received from a concerned citizen who called Operation Game Thief and the local district wildlife officer. The concerned citizen reported that Minton had poached at least five buck mule deer and that the heads were in a barn or garage at Minton’s residence. The citizen reported that Minton had been poaching deer south of Fort Sumner near Finney Farms. Further evidence for the search warrant was observed by District Wildlife Officer Mark Holguin, when Holguin attempted to contact Minton at his residence.
During the execution of the search warrant, 12 buck deer heads, several firearms, knives, and approximately 200 pounds of deer meat were seized. During the investigation, Minton admitted to the unlawful killing of four of the deer, and acknowledged that he knew it was illegal for him to be shooting deer during closed seasons. Also during the interview process, Minton admitted to not having any legal documentation to possess any of the deer heads found at his residence.
Sixteen wildlife-related charges have been filed on Minton: 12 counts of unlawful possession of deer and 4 counts of unlawful killing of deer. Minton was arrested and transported to the De Baca County Jail and detained on a $5,000 cash-only bond. Minton also may face increased civil penalties due to the trophy nature of some of the bucks.
Department of Game and Fish officers can file civil charges in district court to recoup the state’s loss of unlawfully killed game animals. Increased civil penalties may be assessed if the antlers of buck deer exceed certain antler size standards. Depending upon the size of the poached buck, civil penalties can reach as high as $10,000 per animal.
This case is an excellent example of how one person can make a huge impact upon local wildlife resources by not following the rules; in this case, 12 dead deer.
Anyone with information concerning this or any other poaching incident is urged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263. Callers may also call Conservation Officer Mark Holguin, at (575) 472-0583. Callers may be eligible for rewards and need not identify themselves or testify in court.