A suspected antelope poacher who fled New Mexico, avoiding prosecution, was arrested Thursday by Conservation Officers of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish who had tracked him across the country.

Michael Yarbrough, 22, was indicted in June by a Sandoval County Grand Jury for his role in a February antelope poaching case that occurred on the King Ranch west of Rio Rancho. He faces charges of illegal killing of antelope, illegal possession of antelope, criminal trespassing and a felony charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Only two buck antelope heads were taken during the crimes and the meat was left to rot on the King Ranch. The Department of Game and Fish became aware of the crimes due to an Operation Game Thief call that reported the poached animals.

“This was an egregious series of crimes,” said Game and Fish Director Jim Lane. “I am very proud of the professionalism of my officers that resulted in this arrest without injury to anyone.”

Yarbrough failed to appear for arraignment and the Sandoval County District Court in Bernalillo issued a nationwide felony arrest warrant in September. The warrant allowed for extradition, and Yarbrough was believed to have fled to South Carolina.

Another Rio Rancho man, Travis Miller, 18, also faces charges of unlawful killing of antelope, unlawful possession of antelope and criminal trespassing on the King Ranch. Miller also faces a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was arraigned on Aug. 13. He is awaiting trial.

Yarbrough also could be charged with illegal possession of deer. DNA analysis of meat taken from his residence in February was consistent with the antelope killed on the King Ranch and deer from an unknown source.

Operation Game Thief offers rewards for information leading to the arrest or filing of charges against individuals who violate wildlife laws. The reward for information involving antelope is $350. The Operation Game Thief number is 1-800-432-4263.

Image courtesy New Mexico Department of Game & Fish

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