2 New Mexico Men Convicted of Poaching Barbary Sheep

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Two Carlsbad area men convicted of poaching Barbary sheep in the Brokeoff Mountains of southeastern New Mexico will pay $1,750 each in fines and civil penalties.

Magistrate Richard Van Dyke ordered Clint Hughes, 28, and Jerry Vannatta, 24, both of the Carlsbad area, each to pay a $1,000 fine for failure to tag barbary sheep and a $500 fine for wanton waste of game. Each man also paid $250 to the state in civil penalties for the loss of two Barbary sheep rams.

Clint Hughes, 28, and Jerry Vannatta, 24, both of the Carlsbad area, were charged with two counts each of failure to tag Barbary sheep and wanton waste of Barbary sheep. Both men had valid Barbary sheep hunting licenses in their possession when they were interviewed by Department of Game and Fish officers.

According to Department reports, other hunters contacted officers after they witnessed two hunters shoot two Barbary sheep rams and leave the carcasses to rot. Witnesses said the hunters shot 20 times at the fleeing sheep, and then took pictures and ate lunch next to two dead rams before leaving the area.

Witnesses flagged down Conservation Officer Adam Wright, directed him to the dead rams and gave him a description of the suspects' vehicle. Hughes and Vanatta later confessed to killing the sheep when interviewed by Officer Terry Nelson.

Anyone with information about poaching incidents is encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-GAME (4263). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if information leads to charges being filed.