By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
One of five defendants in the illegal hunting case that involves Scott Bidegain, a Quay County rancher and former chair of the New Mexico Game Commission, entered a no-contest plea Wednesday in the incident that brought misdemeanor unlawful hunting charges against all five.
Bidegain resigned as chair of the game commission when the charges were filed.
Jason Roselius, Oklahoma City, Okla., one of five persons in the party on the day the cougar was shot to death, entered a no-contest plea Wednesday to first-offense charges of unlawful unting or fishing. He was sentenced to 90 days of unsupervised probation, according to court documents. Roselius also paid $73 in court fees.
Game and Fish arrest documents identify Roselius as the hunter who actually shot the cougar.
Even though Roselius had acquired a big-game hunting license, he had not obtained the general hunting license he also was required to have. The arrest document also says Roselius was supposed to have a printed copy of the license with him when the cougar’s pelt was tagged.
The remaining four defendants, including Bidegain, entered not-guilty pleas. A final pretrial conference for the four will be held in July, but an exact date has not been declared.
DeBaca County Magistrate Judge Buddy Hall set deadlines of June 1 for the defense and prosecution to exchange information and June 15 for motions to be filed in the case. A hearing on motions will be scheduled after June 15, according to Hall’s orders.
All five defendants are accused of participating in the cougar hunt Feb. 9 on the T-4 Ranch, which Bidegain’s family owns and operates.
According to the Game and Fish arrest document, the cougar was tracked and cornered by hunting dogs, but the hunters were not with the dogs as they conducted the hunt, as the law requires.
The 180,000-acre T-4 ranch lies in Quay, San Miguel and Guadalupe counties. The allegedly illegal cougar killing occurred in San Miguel County.
Charged with Bidegain and Roselius were Larry H. Webb of Newkirk; Billy G. Ivy of Canyon, Texas; and Chad W. Hassell of Childress, Texas.