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Game Commission Report Back May, Clayton

The most recent meeting of the Game Commission was a quick one in Clayton – here’s what went down!

For Agenda Item 7, addressing fur trapping in New Mexico, Senator Pete Campos presented about how to “find solutions and seek balance of interests” when it comes to trapping in New Mexico. His suggestions include:

  • Creating a stamp that funds the monitoring and enforcement of trapping/poisoning laws
  • Implementing sign requirements that alert hikers to where trapping/poisoning might be taking place
  • Review and, if appropriate, make recommendations for removal of current exemptions from licensure and other applicable trapping/poisoning rules.”
  • Implement an effective system for monitoring trap locations

Suggested next steps moving forward include establishing a working group among NMDGF and stakeholders, set up meeting times for the working group, and having the group report back to the commission on their findings.

Chairman Kienzle expressed the commission’s desire to modernize the trapping rules and approved of the next steps. He questioned the timeline for moving forward.

Director Sandoval said they this coming together in the summer and having suggestions in the fall, so the wheels are already in motion.

Kienzle reiterated how the commission has tried to work on this issue for years and it’s a hard one to get people on the same page on. He ended by saying, “You’ve got my full support to get it done.”

One additional suggested NMWF has recommended to the Department is a mandatory online trapping ethics course to obtain a trapping license. We’d like to know what you think – please send us an email at

For agenda 8, Director Sandoval presented awards to department staffers who have gone above and beyond. The teamwork award went to the fisheries department for their work making sure the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout is successful here in New Mexico. Casey Cardinal was awarded the Conservation Services Award. Director Sandoval noted that “in a decade when we’re all out there hunting Gould’s turkey without restrictions we will have Casey to thank.”

Melinda Benavidez is the properties manager who received the support services award and is retiring soon. Director Sandoval noted that “she’s always laughing.” Director Sandoval concluded by saying how she is “truly humbled by the work that they [the staff] do.”

Agenda Item 9 was presented by Rey Sanchez about the penalty assessment violations. He said that prior to 1997 all citations required a court appearance. In 1997 legislature authorized the issuing of penalty assessment citations for fishing without a license and hunting small game without a license. Income from these violations goes to the Game Protection Fund which amounts to about $75,000.

Sanchez noted that the department comes out ahead in terms of processing citations.

During the revocations portion, it became clear that this is some confusion around hunting Unit 16. Commissioner Ryan said that better mapping systems should be developed to help with boundary issues. Officer Griego said that there are written descriptions of the units, but agreed that the maps can be hard to interpret.

Agenda 11 reserved 2 elk licenses to nonprofit wish granting organizations for persons under 21 who have a life threatening illness. The nonprofit organizations awarded the hunts this year were Hunt of a Lifetime and Safariwish.

Agenda 12 was presented by Stewart Liley and was about the upland game rule development. Proposed changes include adjusting the season dates according to calendar and USFWS frameworks and to adjust bag limits. Proposed changes include increased bag limits for the Canada Goose in Pacific Flyway to 4, open Hammond and Retherford Tract WMAs to waterfowl during established seasons, increase Sandhill Crane allocation, open Bernalillo and Sandoval counties to dark goose, and reduce bag limit for Northern Pintail to 1 per USFWS framework.

The department received 37 public comments since May 8th, with most in favor of the changes.

Commission Ryan noted that she saw some nodding in the audience and lots of happy people about the opening of Sandoval county. Commissioner Espinoza noted that he had received some really really positive comments from his part of the state.

The motion to replace the migratory bird rule passed unanimously.

Agenda 13 was also presented by Liley and regarded the upland game rule. Previously, hunting of the Eurasian collared-dove was allowed year round, however an omission was that the species didn’t need a license. However, a small game license is needed so that omission is now included.

Agenda 14 was presented by Michael Sloane about the Aquatic Invasive Species Rule. As Director Sandoval explained, the changes are to make the rules consistent with Colorado so when boaters come across state lines they know what to expect.

Sloane explained the the department is working on more outreach so boaters know what to expect. Commissioner Espinoza liked the proactive stance the department is taking and that New Mexico is still aquatic invasive species free.

Agenda items 15, 16, and 17 dealt with the disposing of vehicles and other assets, the fiscal year 2019 budget, and an update on the Albuquerque office complex, respectively. The new complex is expected to be finalized in May.

Agenda 18 was presented by Chairman Kienzle under the title of “commission discussion regarding trespass.” The title of this agenda item is misleading and sounds innocuous, but we’re concerned that it’s actual intent is far from benign.  

Chairman Kienzle spoke about NMSA 17-4-6, saying it codified what was already the law in New Mexico. This is in reference to the Stream Access Bill based in 2015 which states that you cannot wade in streams running through private property. NMWF has been very active on this issue, you can find more information about the Stream Access bill on our coalition website and learn more about the history of how we got here.

Chairman Kienzle proposed taking up at an action item at the next meeting about providing signage of some sort or some sort of certification to private landowners. The goal would be to try to make them all consistent. Chairman Kienzle said that there could be a sign provided by the department that will give guidance to law enforcement if something is in fact private property. It would be “some sort of certification” issued by the director giving guidance on whether something is private property or not.

Commissioner Ryan said that she appreciated the chairman initiating this issue regarding trespass, as she believes trespass seems to be at the forefront of issues for hunters and private landowners.

Our Communications Director, Susan Torres, commented that NMWF is willing to help in making sure the public has access to public lands and waterways, while also respecting private landowners property.

Agenda 19, “Draft Rule Presentation of the Commission’s Appeal Process” was deferred.

In the public comment period a representative from the NM Conservation Officers Association asked about the status on the physical carcass tag system and asked that the issue stay on the agenda of the commission.

Director Sandoval said running and testing a new voice recording system for documenting hunter harvest will conclude soon.

The next Game Commission meeting is in Ruidoso, we look forward to commenting on the ongoing stream access issue when it is on the agenda for public comment.