By Staci Matlock
State Department of Game and Fish law-enforcement officers searched a Santa Cruz home Thursday for evidence related to the illegal killing of deer in Chama.
Maj. Donald Jaramillo, director of the agency’s northern operations, confirmed that officers with a search warrant confiscated some items, but no animal heads were found. He said the case was still under investigation and no charges had been filed.
Officers were looking for deer heads, knives or saws, hunting-related photographs and any firearm that could discharge .22-caliber ammunition.
The search was prompted by a poaching report in mid-October, when no hunting was allowed in the area. Chama residents reported seeing two people, one in a camouflage coat who was carrying a rifle, on the Torrez Ranch. One of the residents later found a deer carcass near his house with the head cut off. A Game and Fish conservation officer who investigated found three more mule deer carcasses with the heads cut off and the meat left to rot.
Evidence and eyewitness accounts pointed to the Santa Cruz resident, authorities said.
Jaramillo said poaching remains an ongoing problem in the state. “We do lose a lot of animals where just the heads are taken,” Jaramillo said. “It is a lot of wanton waste.”
He said the poaching often occurs in remote areas. “There aren’t a lot of witnesses, so we have to rely on the evidence,” he said. More....