Conservation Wildlife Management

New Mexico Poachers Convicted for Using Attack Dogs to Take Elk

Anonymous tips from the public helped investigators convict the three poachers on a total of 17 charges
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It is illegal in New Mexico to use dogs to hunt or pursue elk. BLM

Three poachers in southern New Mexico have been convicted of using attack dogs to illegally take elk, along with several other wildlife-related crimes. Otero County residents Alix Miller, Kasen Flotte, and Jenna Livers were recently convicted on a total of 17 charges related to the illegal killing of elk and deer near Maryhill, according to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Game wardens had already been looking into the poachers, and an anonymous tip from a local resident bolstered their investigation.

“It is great how one tip can turn into a much larger case that was such an egregious poaching case by multiple people,” said NMGF conservation officer Kurt Felix. “Modern poaching is rarely about feeding a family, and it should not be confused with hunting. Hunting is a legal activity, and poaching is a crime.”

Officer Felix first received a report that Miller was illegally killing elk in July 2019. More reports followed claiming that Miller was using dogs to attack and hold down bull elk so he could approach and shoot them at close range.

The department’s investigation eventually turned up video footage of Miller, Livers, and Flotte from March 2019 that showed the three individuals commanding their dogs to chase and injure a bull elk. In the video, the dogs can be seen holding the elk down as the individuals approach the bull and shoot it multiple times with .22s. The bull elk was then left to rot.

“Subsequent reports corroborated that two additional bull elk and one mule deer buck suffered the same fate at the hands of these individuals,” NMGF explained in the press release.

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As the department explained, it is illegal to use dogs to hunt or pursue elk, deer, pronghorn, and turkey in New Mexico. It is also illegal to shoot an elk with a caliber as small as .22 rimfire, and it’s a felony to leave elk meat in the field to rot. In addition to all these crimes, the three individuals killed the animals out of season, and they did not have a hunting license in their possession at the time.

Altogether, the three poachers were convicted of seven misdemeanor violations and 10 fourth-degree felonies, including waste of game, conspiracy to commit a felony, and tampering with evidence. Miller received four years and six months of supervised probation and an $825 fine. Flotte and Livers received three years of supervised probation, and Flotte was fined an additional $565.

All three poachers have also had their hunting and fishing privileges revoked for the next 10 years. Because New Mexico is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, those revocations will be extended to every U.S. state except Nebraska and Hawaii.