Man Found Guilty of Illegal Oryx Hunting

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A Santa Fe man will pay $2,102 and may be permanently banned from entering White Sands Missile Range as a result of convictions for illegal oryx hunting at the range.

Stephen Vargas, 44, of Santa Fe was convicted in Socorro Magistrate Court June 26 on two counts of unlawful hunting. Chad James, Datil district conservation officer, charged Vargas with hunting oryx in a closed area and shooting at oryx across a county road. James found Vargas hunting oryx inside White Sands Missile Range Jan. 26. Vargas had an off-range license for oryx and walked into the missile range to hunt, but did not kill an oryx.

Vargas was fined $2,102 by Judge Jim Naranjo and received enhanced sentences on both counts, due to a prior conviction for hunting with aid of artificial light. State game laws impose higher fines on individuals who have previous game law convictions.

Had Vargas taken an oryx in the closed area, fines and civil penalties could have been up to $4,000 higher, said Chris Neary, Socorro district wildlife supervisor.

White Sands Missile Range is expected to take administrative action against Vargas, barring him and his companion from entering the missile range permanently.