Scott Bidegain, former chairman of the New Mexico Game Commission, and four other defendants waived an arraignment scheduled for Monday in Quay County Magistrate Court.
All are accused of misdemeanors in connection with an allegedly illegal cougar hunt on the T-4 Ranch, which Bidegain’s family owns and operates. Bidegain resigned from the game commission because of the charges.
The 180,000-acre T-4 ranch lies in Quay, San Miguel and Guadalupe counties. The cougar killing occurred in San Miguel County.
The five now face a hearing before Judge David Hall, the De Baca County magistrate judge, on the charges. No hearing date has been set.
Charged with Bidegain are Larry H. Webb of Newkirk; Billy G. Ivy of Canyon, Texas; Chad W. Hassell of Childress, Texas; and Jason E. Roselius of Oklahoma City, Okla. All pleaded not guilty to misdemeanors related to using illegal methods to hunt and kill the cougar.
Roselius was cited for killing a cougar without a valid license.
A complaint filed in Quay County Magistrate Court on Feb. 17 alleges Bidegain did “unlawfully counsel, aid or abet in the killing of a cougar that was pursued by dogs without the licensed hunter being present continuously from the initial release of the dogs.”
It is a misdemeanor to “release dogs with the intent to pursue or hunt bears or cougars unless the hunter is present from the initial release of the dogs,” according to state statute.
The complaint was signed by Sgt. Ty Jackson, district supervisor for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in Las Vegas.
An Associated Press story said Bidegain was with at least four other men Feb. 9 on his family’s T4 Cattle Company ranch when they allegedly let loose dogs to chase a cougar and corner the animal in a cave.