Portales man pleads not guilty to poaching charges

Freedom New Mexico

A Portales man accused of poaching deer and antelope has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of unlawful possession of wildlife and two counts of buying additional deer hunting licenses, according to the state Department of Game and Fish.

If convicted, 20-year-old Jacob Gaines, who was arrested March 12, could face fines of up to $400 per charge, said Ron Moore, assistant chief of the Game and Fish department office in Roswell.

According to a Department of Game and Fish news release, Gaines was released on a $10,000 bond after requesting a jury trial at the Roosevelt County Magistrate Court. Jury selection is scheduled for Aug. 10.

All Gaines’ charges so far are misdemeanors, but Moore said investigators were still gathering information to determine who actually killed the 17 deer and one antelope.

Conviction of killing the deer illegally, as opposed to possessing the carcasses, could bring civil as well as criminal penalties.

“This investigation keeps growing,” Moore said. “We keep gathering up information.”

While Moore said no one else has been charged in the case, he expects more citations and possibly more arrests.

According to the news release, the investigation began after someone told the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office that Gaines and others had been poaching deer around Portales. Moore said the investigation started in January.

Department officers questioned Gaines, who said he and several friends had hunted deer during a regularly scheduled hunt between Roswell and Fort Sumner, according to the news release. Gaines said the heads of the deer they killed were at his house because he was making European mounts for his friends, the news release said.

The release said department officers found evidence contradicting the statements of Gaines and his friends, particularly about when they killed the bucks.

Shortly before Gaines’ arrest, officers executed a search warrant at his residence and confiscated 17 deer heads and one pronghorn head, the release said.

Moore said investigators believed most of the animals came from the area around Portales, Dora and the Texas border.

Gaines could not be reached for comment.