Antelope Poachers Pay $2,740 in Four-Wheeler Chase

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Two Artesia men were fined a total of $2,740 in fines, court costs and civil damages Oct. 29 for charges stemming from the illegal killing and chasing of antelope on four-wheelers in August.

Quinton Bell, 22, and his brother-in-law Russell Wilson, 22, pleaded no contest before Judge Larry Wood in Eddy County Magistrate Court to numerous charges associated with the illegal killing of antelope and illegal operation of four-wheelers.

The charges were filed after officers from the Department of Game and Fish investigated a rancher's report of a dead antelope on his property south of Artesia. There was no antelope hunting season at that time in the area.

Investigating officers Bryan Nygren and Terry Nelson determined the antelope had been killed with a shotgun at close range and part of the meat taken. They found a second dead antelope nearby that evidently was shot with a .22-caliber firearm. Four-wheeler tracks covered the area where the antelope were killed.

While Nygren and Nelson were completing their investigation at the ranch, Bell and Wilson arrived by highway on four-wheelers. The officers found blood and antelope hair on one of the men's vehicles.

Bell admitted chasing one of the antelope on his four-wheeler until he was close enough to kill it with his shotgun. He also admitted shooting the second antelope with a .22-caliber pistol before it ran off. Both Bell and Wilson said they had taken the meat from one of the antelope and dined on it the previous night.

Bell was fined $400 each for two charges of illegal killing and one charge of possession of antelope; $50 each for harassing antelope with a motor vehicle and operating an off-road vehicle on a paved road. He paid an additional $263 in court costs and must pay $500 in civil damages to the Department of Game and Fish for the state's loss of the two antelope.

Wilson was fined $400 for illegal possession of antelope, $50 each for operating an off-road vehicle on a paved road and failing to register his four-wheeler. He paid $177 in court costs.

Both men must serve 360 days probation and successfully complete a Hunter Education class. They also face the loss of their hunting and fishing privileges for up to three years.