SANTA FE – A North Dakota man has been ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution for poaching a trophy mule deer buck in northwestern New Mexico.
The state Department of Game and Fish reported Wednesday that Cody Davis also was ordered to make a $3,000 donation to the Operation Game Thief program.
Authorities say Davis killed a mule deer out of season and didn’t have a license.
The investigation started in 2015 with a tip. Conservation officers found a large headless buck near Lindrith and set up surveillance in the area after finding the severed head stashed nearby.
Davis, who was originally from Lindrith, returned four months later to retrieve the head. Officers followed him for miles toward Bernalillo, where he dumped the trophy head off a bridge over the Rio Grande in an attempt to avoid getting caught. It took nearly two weeks of searching the river before conservation officers and biologists found the head.
New Mexico authorities worked with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to serve a search warrant at Davis’ home. Authorities said Davis, who has an extensive history of game law violations in New Mexico, admitted to killing the deer.
New Mexico wildlife managers said that at the conclusion of the investigation, nearly 2,000 hours had been logged, more than 25,000 miles were driven and numerous search warrants were conducted in the two states.