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N.M. game official resigns after illegal deer hunt

/ Source: The Associated Press

The head of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department is resigning from his position, a month after the state Game Commission revoked his hunting license for illegally killing a deer.

Bruce Thompson submitted his resignation late Wednesday. Conservation officers had called for him to step down.

Gov. Bill Richardson announced Thursday that he has appointed a former deputy director of the department, Tod Stevenson, to serve as interim director until a permanent replacement is found.

Thompson was out of state attending a conference and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Unrelated to hunting flap?
Game Commission chairman Tom Arvas said Thompson's decision to resign was unrelated to the hunting flap.

"Bruce pretty well felt that after six years that he had achieved many successes with this administration and he felt that he wanted to look toward other resource management challenges in other areas," he said.

Thompson's last day as game director will be Nov. 14. He will start a new job Nov. 17 in a division of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The state Game Commission voted Oct. 2 to revoke Thompson's hunting privileges in New Mexico and more than two dozen other states for illegally shooting a deer on the Diamond T Ranch during a 2007 hunt. It's illegal to hunt on private property in New Mexico without permission from the landowner.

Mistaken location
Thompson, who had a valid deer hunting license, said he believed he was on federal land, based on coordinates entered in his global positioning system unit.

Thompson took responsibility for the illegal kill, but members of the New Mexico Conservation Officers Association claimed the director's handling of the incident gave the department a bad name.

A letter from the association stated Thompson "should step aside and let a qualified and trustworthy person take the reins."

Thompson, who was appointed by Richardson in 2003, told The Associated Press last month that he and the department have had many accomplishments over the years. He pointed to expanded sportsmen's opportunities, resource management projects and the department's access-to-nature program.