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Proposal Would Make Trophy Poaching A Felony

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File photo of deer antlers on display. (Photo by JENS BUTTNER/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of deer antlers on display. (Photo by JENS BUTTNER/AFP/Getty Images)

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Game and Fish Department wants to get tough on poachers who leave the meat of trophy animals behind to rot.

The department is throwing its support behind legislation that would make such poaching crimes a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. Currently, these crimes are classified as misdemeanors.

The department says tougher penalties are needed as a deterrent to stop the waste of the state’s wildlife.

With a felony conviction, offenders could face 18 months in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

Over the past two years, conservation officers have investigated more than 200 cases in which big game animals have been unlawfully killed and their carcasses left to rot.

Those animals covered by the House bill include bighorn sheep, ibex, oryx, elk, deer and pronghorn antelope.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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