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The NM State Game Commission met on Friday July 21st at the Game and Fish office in Albuquerque. The meeting was short and the atmosphere was a bit awkward, which appears to be the way this Commission prefers to roll.
The Commission started the meeting, as they normally do, with general public comment. Several days prior to the meeting Animal Protection New Mexico (APNM) sent an email to their members requesting they provide public comment in opposition to the Bear and Cougar Rule (which is currently open to public engagement and input on amendments for the next 4yr cycle). The email notice resulted in an abnormally high number of public comments made during the Commission meeting. All comments were in opposition to bear and cougar hunting. Some of the comments recommended that the Commission “lower the quotas”, “ban the use of dogs”, “live and let live”, “create policy that reflects the social values of the majority”, and several commentors mentioned that Bear/Cougar populations are “self-regulating” and therefore hunting is unnecessary. Obviously we disagree with all of these statements whole heartedly, but the point is that right now the anti’s are winning in the arena of public comment.
It is time for our side to get busy commenting in support of the Department of Game and Fish when it comes to bear and cougar hunting! We may not agree with everything all of the time but in general the NMDGF does a fantastic job managing
wildlife in the state of NM and they need to know that we support them. Remaining quiet or being constantly critical of every policy decision only plays into the hands of the anti-hunting public. Please provide public comment to the Dept. regarding the Bear/Cougar Rule. Feel free to let them know your true thoughts but lead with the positive and remember to let them know you support the hunting of bear and cougar. Send your comments to DGF-BearCougar-Rules@state.nm.us
MIGRATORY BIRD RULE
The Commission unanimously approved the Migratory Bird Rule for Sept. 1, 2023-March 31st, 2024. This rule is approved annually in conjunction with the federal framework of the Central and Pacific Flyway Council. Amendments to the rule were recommended based on federal framework and public comments. Some public comments were not applicable because they would go against the federal framework. A copy of the newly approved rule can be found on the NMDGF website under Commission “hearing archives” (until Sept. when it will be moved to the hunting tag under “Rules and Penalties”). Approved changes to the rule are as follows:
Hunt dates were amended based on federal framework changes.
No changes were made to sandhill crane or dove
Federal changes were applied to pintail
Bag limits remain the same for Central and Pacific Flyway birds in most instances.
The Dept. initiated the opening of the Furbearer Rule. The rule is currently on a 4 year cycle but the Dept. is proposing to make the rule “permanent”, meaning the rule remains closed unless specifically opened by the Commission. The Dept. mentioned several
reasons for the change, the foremost being that NMDGF only allows harvest of a small amount of furbearers as it is and the 2022 trapping ban has only further reduced harvest. It makes more sense for the rule to be considered permanent and for the Commission to have Dept. biologists provide annual reports, rather than the overly burdensome constraints of a rule on an official cycle which is subject to a formal hearing including time requirements, public comment, and Commission action. The Dept. explained that if
necessary the Director can set bag limits with the concurrence of the Commission Chair. Furbearer populations are currently stable and a recent study showed that even the swift fox population (which was previously a species of concern) was proven to be stable. Potential changes to the Furbearer Rule are open for public comment and will be approved by the Commission later this year.
At each meeting the Commission goes into Executive Session which is unavailable to the public and generally relates to ongoing legal matters which the Dept. and Commission are involved in. The only insight that the public is awarded in regards to the Commission Executive Session is a short description of cases discussed provided in the meeting agenda. At the most recent meeting the agenda referenced the NM Trappers Association lawsuit against the NM Attorney General and NMDGF Director Sloane. This means the NM Trappers Association has filed a formal lawsuit against the law passed in 2021 (and in effect April 2022) which banned trapping on all NM public land. NMCOG is anxious to see how the proceedings go and we have agreed to help the NM Trappers Association overturn the trapping ban in the legislature in the event they are able to successfully deem the ban wholly or partially unconstitutional. Like all lawsuits, there definitely won’t be anything quick about this legal process. But this lawsuit is good news and it’s a start...