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The NM State Game Commission held their most recent meeting in Cloudcroft at The Lodge Pavilion this past Wednesday. The meeting was sparsely attended compared to the previous commission meetings held in more urban venues. Even though Bear, Cougar, and Trapping were all on the agenda; only several more hunters and trappers than usual showed up to defend their positions (which is the opposite of what you might expect to see at a meeting held in a rural setting). Yet, as usual, the anti-hunting/trapping crowd was solidly represented and provided public comment.
The moral of the story: The Commission continues to hear from many, many individuals in the anti-hunting community who wish to prevent all predator hunting and trapping. However, the Commission is not hearing from the pro-hunting/trapping community in nearly the same volume. If our industry continues to sit on the side-lines, hoping and praying that the Commission makes the right decision, we may be sorely disappointed in the end. PLEASE take the time to provide public comment to the Dept. in general support of predator hunting and trapping (click HERE). Also, please send the Commissioners an email reiterating your position (Commissioner email addresses provided below).
FISHERIES MANAGEMENT DIVISION PRESENTATION
The Chief of Fisheries, Kirk Patten provided a comprehensive presentation on the condition of the fish hatcheries across the state. The presentation included an update on the condition of both game and non-game species as well as the condition of the Gila Trout population which is listed as “threatened” under the ESA. Chief Patten also gave an update on the condition of the “world class” fishery along the San Juan River and referred to the fact that much of the revenue generated through that fishery is derived primarily by non-resident anglers. Kudos to Chief Patten for this underlying plug for outfitters along the San Juan.
The presentation additionally included a description of the most pressing needs of the fisheries division regarding needed infrastructure improvements at hatcheries across the state. Improvement needs are as follows:
SECOND SUBSEQUENT DISCUSSION ON THE BEAR AND COUGAR RULE
The Dept. provided a final updated presentation to the Commission on their proposed changes to the next 4-year cycle of the Bear and Cougar Rules. The Dept. has made a couple of changes to their proposal in response to their research as well as the public opinions that were voiced at the recent public meetings. The Dept. is proposing the following changes to the Bear and Cougar Rule. The proposals were presented for discussion purposes only and will be approved at the Commission’s November meeting. This rule is currently open for public comment but the final version of the proposal with be posted to the registrar in October so if you would still like to provide public comment please voice your opinion ASAP by sending an email to DGF-Bear-Cougar-Rules@state.nm.us. You can find the Dept.’s full summary of their proposed changes HERE.
Wildlife Management Area in the areas open to hunting with that license.
SUBSEQUENT DISCUSSION ON THE TRAPPING AND FURBEARER RULE
The Dept. provided a subsequent presentation on their proposed changes to the Trapping and Furbearer Rule. The Dept. is going to propose making this rule a 4-year rule which would open for every 4-year cycle just like the other big game rules. Wildlife Chief Stewart Liley provided a lengthy presentation on the current trapping rule, why trapping is a completely necessary part of wildlife management, how the NM trapping regulation compare to other states, and how trapping is the only method of take that is actually recognized and regulated internationally through a 1997 agreement made between the US and the EU. The Dept. is proposing the following:
ODDS AND ENDS
The Dept. also provided a presentation on their efforts to establish an E-tagging system and they initiated rule openings in both the Hunting and Fishing License Application Rule and the Game and Fish Licenses/Permits Rule in order to make minor clarification changes to licenses issued to returning Iraq/Afghanistan veterans as well as penalties for vendors who do not return unissued carcass tags.
The general public comment segment of the meeting was dominated by the usual complaints by the anti-hunting community. The Wildlife federation opposed the adjusted season dates being proposed in the Bear rule and spoke out in general opposition to the Certification of Non-navigable Waters Rule. There were also several ranchers who voiced opposition to the Dept.’s recommendation to do away with Cougar trapping as well as a number of Trappers who spoke out in opposition to the Dept.’s recommendation to increase trap setback distance.
Next Commission Meeting – October 25, 2019 (Farmington, NM)
COMMISSIONER CONTACT INFORMATION
(You are welcome and encouraged to contact the Commissioners any time to voice your opinion)
Joanna Prukop - Chairwoman
District 4: Santa Fe, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Guadalupe and Torrance counties.
Roberta Salazar-Henry – Vice Chairwoman
District 2: Catron, Socorro, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra and Doña Ana counties.
District 1: Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties.
District 3: San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Valencia, Sandoval, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties
District 5: Bernalillo county.
Appointed At-large – Conservation Position