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ND poacher fined thousands

A North Dakota man has been ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution for poaching a trophy mule deer buck in northwestern New Mexico. Cody Davis, Dunseith, also was ordered to make a $3,000 donation to the Operation Game Thief program.

New Mexico 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, NM and set up surveillance in the area after finding the severed head stashed nearby.

Authorities say Davis returned four months later to retrieve the head. Officers followed him for miles toward Bernalillo, New Mexico, where he is accused of dumping the trophy head off a bridge over the Rio Grande in an apparent 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 a history of game law violations in New Mexico, admitted to killing the deer. Davis had also pleaded guilty in Bottineau County in 2012 to charges of accomplice to wanton waste of big game and unlawful taking of a big game animal.

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 executed in the two states.

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