Game Commission Re-cap
September 28, 2017
Red River, NM
The NM State Game Commission hosted their most recent meeting yesterday in Red River, NM. Despite there being several somewhat controversial items on the agenda the meeting was not well attended by the public.
Ladder Ranch Permit Renewal and Wolf Importation Request
The Turner Endangered Species Foundation (TESF) provided a presentation to the Commission regarding their continued work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to hold captive and breed Mexican Wolves at their facility on the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico. The TESF has been working as a partner with the USFWS to assist the Mexican Wolf Recovery program for the past 19 years. They are required by the state to renew their permit every 3 years.
During the meeting, the TESF also requested the Commission’s permission to import wolves into NM, specifically from AZ but possibly from other places as well. Most of the importations would be of nuisance wolves which need to be removed from the wild and held in a safe captive facility. The nuisance wolves would not be reintroduced into the wild in the US. However, they could potentially be re-released into the wilds of Mexico. The Ladder Ranch facility and the USFWS facility at Sevilleta (which is currently closed due to construction) are the only Mexican wolf holding facilities in NM and AZ. The Commission approved the TESF requests unanimously. The NM Farm and Livestock Bureau and the NM Cattle Growers Association spoke in opposition to the permit renewal and the importation request.
Moore Land and Cattle Co. Request to Possess Black Footed Ferrets
The Dept. in conjunction with Greg Moore, the owner of Moore Land and Cattle Co., provided a presentation requesting permission to possess Black Footed Ferrets, an endangered species, on Mr. Moore’s private ranch. The Dept. agrees that Mr. Moore has a population of black tailed prairie dog, the ferret’s primary prey, that is sufficient to sustain a ferret population. The Dept. is proposing to release 20 ferrets in the fall of 2018 and assuming the ranch owner can find a way to balance the black tailed prairie dog population with the ferret population, Mr. Moore will be able to continue possessing the species. Mr. Moore is hopeful that the ferret, as the prairie dog’s primary predator, will disperse the prairie dog population which in turn he feels will help the range land.
The Commission was very complimentary of Mr. Moore’s forward-thinking approach to range management and approved Mr. Moore’s request unanimously.
The Commission unveiled their new process for approving changes to Dept. regulations, or “rule”, to bring the Commission in compliance with the changes that were made to the Rule Development statute during the 2017 legislative session (House Bill 58). From this meeting forward the Commission will conduct rule changes and amendments as an official public hearing with Chairman Kienzle acting as the hearing officer. Public verbal comment will still be allowed during the Commission meetings but individuals will need to address the Commission by first providing their name and address. Written comments are encouraged and will be considered during the meeting as well as during the 30-day comment period prior to the Commission meeting of which the item is to be acted upon. The Commission conducted rule hearings on both magnification on archery equipment as well as the donation of hunting/fishing licenses.
Magnification on Archery Equipment
The Dept. provided an update on changing the Manner and Method Rule to include the use illuminated pins and reticles as well as magnification on bows and cross bows. The sights would not magnify the target but would rather just provide clarity for individuals who have issues with their eye sight. Public comments were made by sportsman expressing a desire for the Commission to consider where to draw the line on the technology advances on primitive weapons. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the changes to the rule.
Amendments to Rule Concerning Donated Licenses
The Dept. provided an update to their recommendation to amend the License Donation Rule. The Dept. would like to make amendments to the rule that would create more flexibility in their ability to distribute donated hunting licenses. The recipient of the donated license must be qualified by a non-profit organization. The interested organization must come before the Commission to be approved to receive donated license. The cost of the license is already paid by the donor and the donor is asked which organization they would like their license to be donated to. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the changes to the rule.
Fisheries Rule Development
The Dept. provided an update to their presentation on the 2018 fisheries rule. The Dept. plans to put a large focus on special trout waters. They plan to simplify the special trout waters rule by making 3 categories of special waters. The Dept. “Red Chili” level will be catch and release. The “Green Chili” level will allow for 2 fish w/tackle restrictions. The “Christmas” level would be no tackle restrictions. The Dept. is also proposing a trophy bass opportunity and will continue to have Brantley lake be catch and release. The Dept. has been hosting several public meetings across the state to obtain public input regarding the changes. NMCOG was the only attendee at the Albuquerque meeting. To date the Dept. has received only 12 public comments regarding the rule change the majority of which were in support of the changes. Final rule adoption will be in November with the new rule effective April 1 2018. Please click HERE to read the full list of changes to the fisheries rule and to provide public comment to the Dept.
During this agenda item, the Director requested a point of personal privilege. During which she provided the Commission with a plaque for being selected, by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, as Game Commission of The Year. Congratulations to the New Mexico State Game Commission on a job well done!!
Certification of Properties Regarding Trespass
The Chairman described to the Commission his proposal to draft rules and regulations specifically regarding trespass as it relates to the Stream Access Law which was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in 2015. The stream access law codified 30 years of Dept. regulation that stated that an angler needs the written permission of the landowner to fish in non-navigable waters that have private land on both sides. The new rules will hopefully make it clearer to both the public and the landowner regarding to trespass posting requirements for landowners. The draft of the new rules and regulations will be posted to the public registrar and opened for public comment no later than October 14, 2017. Click HERE to see the rule once it’s been posted.
Collection of Shed Antlers in a Closed Area
The Dept. provided a presentation on proposed changes to the Manner and Method Rule regarding shed antler collection. Recently, and in conjunction with the inflated demand for shed antlers, the Dept. has increasingly had problems with individuals crossing onto closed lands to retrieve antlers. The Dept. is proposing to add language to the rule that would make that action consistent with criminal trespass thus making those antlers subject to seizure by the Dept.
Commissioner Ramos requested that the Dept. consider having a shed season or making individuals buy a license of sorts to collect shed antlers. That way some of the people who are coming into NM specifically to hunt shed antlers would at least be contributing to wildlife conservation. The Chairman moved to TABLE the item to provide the Dept. with the appropriate time needed to explore additional considerations to thoroughly address the problems associated with shed hunting.
Dept. Recommendation to Prohibiting the Use of Aircraft for Scouting
The Dept. provided an updated presentation regarding potential changes to the rule that regulates the use of aircraft. Currently an aircraft cannot be used to locate game within 48 hours of the hunt. The Dept. is proposing to completely prohibit the use of aircraft for locating wildlife during hunting season (basically from August-December). The Dept. feels that this change in the rule will help them enforce a perceived abuse of individuals illegally locating game by aircraft in the Gila.
During public comment, several NM Pilots Association members, a representative from the Aviation Division of the NM Department of Transportation, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation stood in strong opposition to the Department’s proposed changes. They reminded the Commission that there are many non-hunting related recreational air activities going on in the sky during hunting season. They requested that the Commission meet with their respective groups to determine a solution. The Chairman grow increasingly hostile over the course of public comment seemingly taking the comments as personal attacks against the Dept. law enforcement officers. However, the Chairman also acknowledged that public sentiment on the issue seems to be divided and motioned to TABLE the issue until the department can find a less contentious solution.
Rules Regarding Carcass Tagging
The Dept. updated the Commission on their continued work to produce a system of carcass tagging that would be both convenient to hunters as well as more effective for conservation officers in the field. The Dept. has decided that going back to a durable carcass tag is the most effective way to provide officers with the tools they need to verify the legality of carcasses in the field. The Dept. is proposing to mail the carcass tags to all hunters successful in the draw (or to an address of that hunter’s choice). Carcass tags for landowner permits may either be requested by mail within 10 days of the hunt or obtained from a vendor in the case of a last-minute license purchase. A full description of the new carcass tagging requirements will be posted for public comment no later than October 14th. Click HERE. The Commission will be voting on the Dept.’s tagging proposal at their November meeting. The new rule would go into effect for the 2018 hunting season.
New Department of Game and Fish Phone App.
The Dept. provided a live demonstration of their recently launched cell phone application. The app is free and can be downloaded on android or IOS phones. The app. demonstration was pretty awesome and if you like cell phone technology you are going to LOVE this new application. The app. is complete with real time GPS that shows you where you are in the unit and in relation to various land boundaries (FS, BLM, State, private). You can also see all the public fishing access points in the state of NM. It gives you full access to everything on the NMDGF website and you can download your license or do your harvest report directly through the app. Download the app. today from the Google Play Store it’s called the NM Fish & Wildlife Guide.
Next Commission Meeting Thursday November 16, 2017 – Truth or Consequences, NM
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