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Poacher Is Hit With a Hefty Fine After Illegally Killing a 232-Inch Buck. But Is It High Enough?
Katie Hill - Yesterday 6:27
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It took the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish four months and $54,000 to catch a poacher who shot and beheaded a 232 7/8-inch mule deer buck near the town of Lindrith in December 2015. It then took the legal system another six-plus years to set and confirm his punishment, which included a hefty fine totaling $74,000.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was eventually successful in recovering the head and antlers.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was eventually successful in recovering the head and antlers.© New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

Cody W. Davis appealed the restitution fine he was ordered to pay by Sandoval County Judge James A. Noel on June 23, 2020. The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the appeals court's judgement on Sept. 15, 2022, finalizing the figure.
Davis, of Arnegard, North Dakota, wasn't caught in the act of poaching the deer or removing the head. Instead, he was caught when he returned to the head, which he purposefully hid after he killed the buck. NMGFD set up surveillance around the area where the head was found and watched closely for four months until Arnegard was spotted loading it into his truck. He then led investigators to the Rio Grande, where they watched him toss the head into the river.
Authorities spent two weeks trying to retrieve the head. Once they did, they cooperated with the North Dakota Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire and serve a search warrant for Davis' residence. During the search, he confessed to the poaching.

"Davis, originally from Lindrith, N.M., has an extensive history of game law violations in New Mexico dating back to 2000," reads a July 8, 2020 press release from NMDGF.
The $74,000 in civil restitution was comprised of a $20,000 fee for killing a mule deer out of season and wasting game. Another $54,000 was tacked on to offset the costs of the investigation to NMDGF. He was also required to donate $3,000 to NMDGF's Operation Game Thief, the poaching hotline that was used to catch him, as a part of his criminal conviction.
"The investigation required nearly 2,000 officer hours, over 25,000 miles driven and numerous search warrants conducted in two states," according to the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Punishment for poachers is a topic that often stirs up controversy. Plenty of law-abiding hunters believe that all poachers belong behind bars, and depending on state laws, many do. Jail time was on the table for Davis in this case, but the sentence was deferred when he completed 90 days of unsupervised probation.
Some states like Michigan increase the fine based on the score of the antlers to dissuade poachers from targeting trophy animals. Such a rule would have been relevant for this case, considering the sheer size of the rack on the poached buck. An almost-233-inch score would have put that deer in the Safari Club International record books for New Mexico. Rio Arriba County, where Lindrith is located, is home to nine of the Boone & Crockett's top 10 typical mule deer, and six of the top 10 nontypicals.
With that said, it's hard to believe that a poacher would just stumble across a mule deer buck of that size. Perhaps he was a seasoned professional, a theory his 15-year rap sheet would support. Some might argue the deer was an escapee from a high-fence private enclosure. Or maybe Rio Arriba County just has 230-class muley bucks strolling around in plain sight. Regardless, officials seem happy the case reached a conclusion.
“It was a long investigation, involving many conservation officers, Department biologists and staff from every part of the agency,” NMDGF Conservation Officer Ben Otero said in the July 8 press release. “It also would not have been possible without support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and North Dakota Game and Fish Department.”
 

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I have an entirely different view of people who kill out of season, but are poor and use the whole animal, compared to those who are rich, kill out of season and waste the entire animal.
If you aren't harvesting the animal, you shouldn't be hunting.
Agree. If someone was poor and would go hungry otherwise, I could look the other way. Though I think there are not that many people in that position I know it does happen. The key for me in that situation is only take what you and your immediate family need to eat.
 

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Well at least he finally got caught and punished so happy for that. Was it enough. Maybe maybe not. We could use fines like that, may deter poaching. Of course our province would never spend or use that kind of resources for poaching, too bad.
As to hunting out of need, their are a lot of people even today that can’t afford to feed themselves and family. We just don’t see it. With the way things are going in our economy some of us may need to,lol. Had it not been for wild game and fishing my mother’s family would have starved to death during the Great Depression. Could be another depression on the horizon
 
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fines can be hefty, in NS, for things under the Fisheries Act & Endangered Species Act - hundreds of thousands possible.

our Provincial hunt/fish fines not so much - here's what I found;

Hunting or fishing without valid licence or permit
26​
$237.50​
14​
Failing to comply with terms or conditions contained on licence or permit
27(5)​
$180.00​
15​
Failing to report destruction of nuisance wildlife to Department
28(4)​
$237.50​
16​
Failing to deliver to Department cancelled or forfeited licence, permit or certificate (specify)
30(7)​
$237.50​
17​
Obtaining or applying for licence or permit after conviction
31(2)​
$352.50​
18​
Hunting while disqualified because of hunting accident
32(2)​
$697.50​
19​
Failing to immediately report hunting accident involving firearm or bow
32(3)​
$237.50​
20​
Obtaining licence, permit or tag (specify) while not entitled
33(a)​
$180.00​
21​
Obtaining licence, permit or tag (specify) by false or misleading information
33(b)​
$352.50​
22​
Possessing licence, permit or tag (specify) to which that person is not entitled
33(c)​
$352.50​
23​
Acquiring more than 1 licence or permit of same type in same year
34(1)​
$352.50​
24​
Failing to produce or carry licence, permit, or certificate (specify) upon demand of conservation officer
35​
$180.00​
25​
Transferring licence, permit or tag (specify) to another person for use
36(a)​
$352.50​
26​
Possessing licence, permit or tag (specify) issued to another person
36(b)​
$352.50​
27​
Failing to complete and submit information returns
37(2)​
$180.00​
28​
Interfering with hunting or fishing by another person
38(1)​
$237.50​
29​
Disturbing wildlife with intention of preventing or impeding its being hunted or fished (specify)
38(2)​
$237.50​
30​
Disturbing another person who is engaged in lawful hunting or fishing
38(3)​
$237.50​
31​
Trapping wildlife on forest land without permission of occupier where notice prohibiting trapping without permission posted
38A(2)​
$502.00​
Seasons & bag limits
32​
Hunting wildlife during closed season
39(2)​
$2422.50​
33​
Exceeding seasonal bag limit prescribed for wildlife
39(2)​
$2422.50​
34​
Exceeding daily possession limit prescribed for wildlife
39(2)​
$2422.50​
Big game
35​
Setting trap or snare for moose or deer
40(1)​
$467.50​
36​
Killing deer, moose or bear (specify) while it is swimming
40(2)​
$467.50​
37​
Possessing carcass or any part thereof of member of deer family contrary to Act or regulations
40(3)​
$237.50​
38​
Failing to comply with order of conservation officer respecting a dog
41(2)​
$180.00​
39​
Owner of dog allowing dog to run at large in wildlife habitat
41(5)​
$180.00​
40​
Hunting wildlife with a dog without authorization
42​
$237.50​
 
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