A man seen dumping the head of a mule deer into the Rio Grande from the U.S. 550 bridge has been convicted of poaching, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said this week.
An anonymous tip provided to the department through its Operation Game Thief hotline led authorities to Cody Davis, 37, of Dickinson, N.D., who recently pleaded no contest before Bernalillo Magistrate Delilah Montano-Baca to unlawful hunting, killing and possession of a deer during a closed season, and waste of game, the department said in news release.
Davis, formerly of Lindrith, was ordered to pay $432 in court fees and donate $3,000 to the Operation Game Thief fund, the department said. His jail sentence was deferred upon successful completion of 90 days of unsupervised probation. The department said it will also seek civil restitution for the loss of the trophy-sized buck.
According to Game and Fish, conservation officers starting investigating Davis after an anonymous call to the hotline on Dec. 8, 2015, about a headless deer carcass rotting near Lindrith in Rio Arriba County, north of Cuba. The caller accused Davis of killing the animal. The case went unsolved until March 2016, when another anonymous tip came in suggesting where Davis might have hidden the deer’s head.
On June 7, officers watched as Davis picked the head out of some thick brush alongside N.M. 95 north of Lindrith and then headed toward Bernalillo, the department said. Davis was seen dumping the head into the Rio Grande from the U.S. 550 bridge. Officers and fisheries staff with diving equipment recovered the evidence.
“This case is a perfect example of someone doing the right thing and making a call to (Operation Game Thief), and it resulted in the successful prosecution of a case,” Capt. Ty Jackson, a conservation officer with Game and Fish, said in a statement.
People with information about any wildlife crimes are urged to call the 24-hour toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 432-4263. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards, if charges are filed. Reports also can be submitted anonymously online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us/ogt.