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No prosecution for 2 in illegal cougar kill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Former state Game Commission Chairman Scott Bidegain and a second man charged in an illegal cougar killing last year have applied for and been accepted into a program that will allow them to avoid prosecution, according to state District Attorney Tim Rose in Tucumcari.

Scott Bidegain

BIDEGAIN: Will be under 2 years’ supervision

The charges of unlawful hunting against Bidegain of Tucumcari and Larry Webb of Newkirk will be dismissed if they successfully complete the program, which includes up to two years of supervision and at least 24 hours of community service, Rose said.

Oklahoma City lawyer Jason Roselius, who shot the cougar, had previously pleaded no contest to unlawful hunting and had been ordered by a judge to pay $500 in restitution to the Game and Fish Department.

The charges against the men stemmed from a hunt Feb. 9, 2014, on the Bidegain family’s T4 cattle ranch near Tucumcari.

According to Game and Fish officer reports, hunting dogs had the male cougar cornered in a cave when Roselius arrived at the ranch. The men were charged with illegal hunting because a hunter must be present continuously once any dog is released.

In a statement released last week by his office, Rose said Roselius shot the cougar without the use of dogs.

Bidegain and Webb were charged as accessories to unlawful hunting, but Rose said, “In my opinion, at best, the actions of Mr. Bidegain and Mr. Webb were marginally sufficient for them to be held liable as an accessory.”

Rose said that prosecutors must prioritize cases, and that he wouldn’t forgo prosecuting violent crimes and other serious offenses “in order to prosecute two otherwise outstanding and honorable men of this community for a petty misdemeanor offense in which their guilt is questionable. I believe the resolution of this case is fair and in the best interest of our community.”

In addition to Bidegain, Webb and Roselius, two other men were charged in the hunt, but Rose dismissed those cases.

Bidegain, an appointee of Gov. Susana Martinez, resigned as Game Commission chairman shortly before he and the others were charged last February.

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