SANTA FE, N.M.—Wildlife poaching appears to be on the rise in New Mexico.

Game and Fish officials say they're investigating 22 cases across the state involving elk, deer and antelope carcasses found headless and left to rot.

Department officers are running road blocks across the state to check for illegal hunting activity and to gather data about harvest success.

They also are deploying artificial elk and deer in the field to catch poachers who try to shoot illegally at night or from the road.

Game and Fish officials say New Mexico has stiffer poaching civil penalties of up to $10,000.

They say poachers can interrupt animal breeding cycles and threaten population numbers of a herd when they kill big game out of season or exceed harvest limits.