Camera footage obtained by police shows a Roswell man and a woman seeking out and chasing a herd of pronghorn antelope for more than hour in August, while riding an all-terrain vehicle around Cielo Grande Recreation Area.
The video footage, obtained by the Daily Record from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish after a public records request, shows the couple actively pursuing antelope and harassing the animals while riding on trails southeast of Roswell before the driver, Enrico Amaya, finally had enough.
“I think I chased them far enough already,” Amaya can be heard telling his female passenger, who is yet unknown.
Amaya, 28, of the 600 block of Pine Street, was arrested Aug. 11 by a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officer stationed in Roswell.
The Department of Game and Fish said tips from the public resulted in Amaya’s arrest after he had been seen on multiple occasions chasing a herd of pronghorns with his four-wheel, off-highway vehicle in pastures west of Roswell, near Cielo Grande Recreation Area.
On Aug. 15, Amaya waived his right to a jury trial and a defense attorney in magistrate court, and pleaded no contest to the petty misdemeanor charge of harassment of protected wildlife. He was sentenced by Chaves County Magistrate Judge K.C. Rogers to a suspended 182-day jail sentence, while under supervised probation. He was also ordered by Rogers to enroll in the Chaves County jail’s alternative educational program and to pay $173 of court fees and a fine.
Amaya’s own head-mounted personal body camera, which contained an hour and a half of footage of him and the woman riding the ATV on Aug. 10, led to his conviction.
On numerous occasions, Amaya and the woman can be heard discussing the location of the antelope herd and how best to position themselves to chase the protected wildlife. At a couple of points in the video footage, Amaya and the woman give up the pursuit after the antelope ran into cactus fields.
At one point, an antelope even ducks and goes under a fence to avoid Amaya and his passenger. Amaya and the woman then chase the lone antelope for several hundred feet before the animal got away.
Later in the video footage, a man in a pickup truck confronted Amaya and the woman, telling them they cannot chase wildlife.
The witness, a retired Roswell police officer, recorded portions of the chase and confronted Amaya.
“You’re chasing antelope,” the witness tells Amaya in Amaya’s own video footage. “You can’t be doing that.”
“Alright, why are recording me?” Amaya responded.
“Because you turned on my road,” the witness said.
“I won’t do it no more,” Amaya said. “Alright, I’ll stay out.”
Amaya again asked the witness to stop recording him.
“Alright, I got your point now,” Amaya said.
“You do it all the time,” the witness said, “You come up and down my road a lot.”
“Alright, I won’t chase animals,” Amaya said. “You got it, you got it. OK.”
However, Amaya and the woman resumed chasing the herd of antelope shortly later, the video footage shows.
The Department of Game and Fish said Cpl. Tyson Sanders identified, questioned and arrested Amaya. A video camera and digital media card were subsequently confiscated from Amaya after a search warrant of his residence, the Department of Game and Fish said.
According to court records, Amaya and the female passenger chased herds of pronghorn at high speeds for over an hour in road-less pastures near Cielo Grande Recreation Area. Police said the herd was obviously fatigued by the repeated chases.
“(The witness) advised that as he talked to the individual driving the off-highway vehicle, the herd of pronghorn stood in the middle of West College Boulevard with their tongues out and were breathing heavily and appeared to be exhausted,” states an affidavit for Amaya’s arrest.
Sanders wrote in Amaya’s arrest affidavit that continued chasing of pronghorns during the summer heat could have led to exhaustion and death of the animals.
“Affiant has learned that a pronghorn antelope can run at a speed of approximately 60 mph,” Sanders wrote. “They cannot maintain this speed for extended periods of time and harassment of this type of exertion could cause it to die. With a summer temperature in the 90s on Aug. 10, and newborn fawns on the ground, increased exertion can often be fatal to pronghorn antelope.”
To view excerpts of the video footage, go to rdrnews.com.
Editor Jeff Tucker can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at email@example.com.