Outdoor Notes

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By The Staff

Lake is now open for ice fishing

EAGLE NEST — Eagle Nest Lake State Park opened for ice fishing Tuesday, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and New Mexico State Parks announced.

All terrain vehicles and snowmobiles will be allowed on the ice at this time, but not on the state park shorelines and full-sized vehicles are not allowed. All vehicles must be taken into the park on trailers and driven directly onto the ice from the boat ramp.

Ice fishing access to the lake is available through the state park for a $5 per vehicle day-use fee, or free of charge through access points outside the state park boundaries.

Fishing for rainbow trout, kokanee salmon and yellow perch should be good because the fish have not been disturbed since the lake froze over a few weeks ago. Anglers are advised to protect themselves against the harsh elements by choosing clothing that provides protection from low air temperatures, wind and precipitation while at the same time allowing mobility.

Anglers are also asked to keep in mind the possibility of falling through the ice. Clothing that would severely restrict your ability to swim or to stay afloat isn’t recommended.

Hip boots or waders should never be worn, as they can fill with water and restrict movement.

A personal flotation device should be worn. This can be a vest or jacket, either inflatable or naturally buoyant.

The State Parks Division also recommends the use of ice cleats on footwear while on the lake. The division has a formal procedure for checking the depth of ice.

The ice thickness was 13-plus inches on Tuesday and staff continually makes visual checks of the ice looking for cracks, water on top of the ice and open water, all signs that the ice may not be safe for anglers.  

Anglers are reminded that the 2010 Ice Fishing Tournament will be held Jan. 16, at the boat ramp.

The State Parks Division and the Department of Game and Fish jointly manage Eagle Nest Lake and surroundings via a  Joint Powers Agreement.

According to criteria established by both agencies under the agreement, Eagle Nest Lake State Park staff report the ice conditions to the Department of Game and Fish. When the ice thickness meets its requirements, the Department allows ice fishing on the lake.  

For more information and current updates about ice conditions, please contact Eagle Nest Lake State Park at 575-377-1594.

For questions about fishing in northeastern New Mexico, call the Department of Game and Fish in Raton at 575-445-2311.

Information also is available on the Department of Game and Fish or New Mexico State Parks respective Web sites, www.wildlife.state.nm.us and www.nmparks.com.

Poaching on the rise in Four Corners

FARMINGTON — Department of Game and Fish conservation officers are investigating multiple poaching cases in northwestern New Mexico involving deer, elk and antelope.

So far, 14 deer, one elk and three antelope are known to have been killed illegally so far this winter. While no parts of the antelope were removed from the scenes of the crimes, “the majority of the deer and the elk have only had the heads removed, and the rest was left to rot,” said Brad Ryan, Aztec District Conservation Officer in Aztec.

Large mule deer are particularly susceptible to poaching at this time of year because they are breeding and not as wary as usual. In early December, three of the deer were discovered decapitated on the “Rosa” portion of the Bureau of Land Management property near Navajo Lake.

Other headless deer have been found in Ahagadero Canyon on the Jicarilla District of the Carson National Forest, the Horse Wash area in game management unit 2A, Middle Mesa north of Navajo Lake State Park, near Lindrith,

Heron Lake State Park and near the Laguna Vista subdivision adjacent to Heron Lake. The elk was found at mile marker 99 on U.S. 64 east of Bloomfield.

“These big deer are the reason Northern New Mexico is known for great deer hunting,” said Bill Taylor, Game Manager for Northwest Area Operations. “If poachers continue to kill these big deer for their antlers, disrupting the breeding cycle, we could see a decrease in the population and quality of deer harvested in the region.”

The three dead antelope were killed about 5 miles north of Kirtland along an oil field service road.

“Two of the antelope were killed between Dec. 26 and 27, and a third antelope found within a half mile of the other two had been dead for approximately a week,” Largo District Conservation Officer Matt Anthony said.

This case is unique because nothing was taken from the animals.

Investigations of these incidents are pending, but anyone with information about these or other illegal hunting activites should call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 800-432-4263. Rewards are being offered; up to $750 in the elk poaching case, up to $500 in the deer poaching case and up to $350 in the antelope case.

To qualify, tipsters must provide information resulting in an arrest or charges being filed.