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September Game Commission Report Back

The first order of business at the September game commission meeting in Red River was native Mexican grey wolves. The Turner Endangered Species Foundation at Ladder Ranch was requesting a permit extension.

Chris Wiese, a biologist at the Turner Endangered Species Foundation, gave the presentation.

  • One request from the foundation was to have one pup from a Kansas breeding pair come to NM. Another wolf came from St. Louis. Turner’s goal is to try continue increasing genetic viability in the Mexican grey wolf population.
  • The other request was a management request, the foundation requested the department give authorization to Director Sandoval to deliver permits of up to 5 for wolves that need to be removed from the wild in Arizona. Essentially, this request would help avoid the time delay currently in place as the foundation always needs to come in front of the commission before moving wolves.
  • There are currently four wolves at Ladder Ranch and seven or eight at Sevilleta (USFWS facility). Four at Ladder Ranch have plans to be moved out, two going to El Paso, one going to a breeding facility in New York, and the fourth going to Mexico.

Director Alexa Sandoval said that the department had reviewed the permits and recommended approval of the 25 holding permits and that it’s a continuation of the current permit that they have. The department also recommended approval of the 3 importations, and a restriction on an progeny. The department is in support of this application.

Our executive director, Garrett Vene Klasen spoke during public comment to say that this was a pretty simple and straightforward issue, as this process is about the genetic diversity of the native species. Since it is the mandate of the department to protect native species, we stand in support of their efforts.

A movement to act on the 3 year extension and swapping of 5 wolves was approved.

Agenda Item 8 involved allowing the Moore Land Cattle Company to import and possess black footed ferrets. The agenda item was presented by Stewart Liley who explained that the Vermejo Ranch is the only other place in New Mexico where anyone has attempted to bring black footed ferrets back. The proposal is a safe harbor agreement, similar efforts have been successful in Wyoming and Colorado.

Greg Moore then spoke about what he’s been noticing on his land and the possibility of saving a species. “I know I’m seeing a lot of things I’ve never imagined to see before. We have an invasion of cholla and prickly pear and we’ve got other species. But where the prairie dog town is there are no prickly pear or cholla. So they’re keeping the prairie clean. We haven’t had mesquite but for whatever reason it’s coming out of the canyons and it’s documented that prairie dogs will keep the prairie clean. So we’re going to try and control them with ferrets and try to save a species.

Commissioner Dick Salopek noted that he’s known Mr. Moore for some time and knows he’s a progressive rancher who takes care of his country.

Commissioner Robert Espinoza also spoke saying, “I just want to commend you for taking this on. You know, obviously there’s some economic portion that’s discussed on your part that’s part of this and you know, like you said, saving the species. I wish more ranchers around that would kind of take that bull by the horns and do more of what you –I’ve heard a lot about you, what you do. And it’s good landowners like you that’s the reason New Mexico thrives. So I want to thank you personally for taking this on and wish you much success in it.”

It was noted the department is in favor of the proposal.

Garrett Vene Klasen spoke again saying, “this is about the restoration of a native New Mexico species,” adding how great it is to see private landowners taking an initiative on this issue.

Before the import request was approved by the commissioner, Stuart Liley pointed out that there are currently no black footed ferrets in New Mexico, and this will be a great example of how it can work.

Agenda 9a was an action item under the new manner and method rule amendments. Chairman Kienzle laid out that public comment would be taken a little bit different saying he would be more strict in how people fill out their public comment on rulemaking. 9A was in regard to magnification and scopes on archery equipment and bows.

Ty Jackson presented the proposed rule changes in the definition of what is allowed on a bow or a crossbow specific to illuminated pins/reticles and scopes of any magnification. During public comment the department received three written comments.

Commissioner Ralph Ramos said that with the changes he doesn’t think we’ll be limiting anyone with disabilities, and  this is a great way not to limit people with the technology that’s coming out on this. Commissioner Salopek added that he thinks it will help with ethical harvesting.

Director Sandoval noted that the department has been trying to simplify their rules and that’s what this rule change is – it’s a clean up.

Michael Haynes was the first to make public comment stating, “I think we need to take a look at where we limit this technology as there’s always more technology out there. Personally, I feel like a lot of the technology that we’ve seen in bowhunting, rather than more ethical hunting, it encourages bowhunters to take longer shots that might not be ethical shots. My big concern is where do we draw the line?”

Vene Klasen also spoke, echoing many of Haynes’ comments. Then said: “A bow and arrow is a primitive weapon, right? And I think the idea of technology and primitive techniques should stay away from each other. It’s really also important, every time I go into the woods during archery season, I’m finding more and more gut shot animals. I spent about 2 weeks in the woods this year, same thing.  People are using lighter arrows. They’re taking longer shots. Again, we’re all ambassadors of our sport. There’s a lot more people in the woods. We need to be really, really careful about how we act in the woods. And I personally am seeing a lot more wounded animals, dead animals, lost animals. And I think we need to take shorter shots not longer shots. My daughter just got a brand new bow. She said,“Dad, can I shoot an elk at a hundred yards away?” And I said,“No, you can’t.” I said you’re going to shoot an elk at 25 yards because archery is about your skill as a hunter. And that’s what this is about. This is about us being more skilled as outdoors people, not about not being able to take long, ridiculous shots. And I think we need to be, as a community, really mindful of that. This is about skill. This is about ethics. This is about humanely shooting an animal at close range because that’s what archery is all about.”

Commissioner Ramos added that ultimately it comes down to the individual and knowing your limits. He challenged us to educate bowhunters in the community about ethical hunting. Crossbows are becoming more and more popular across the country. The main reason it’s so popular is because they have harvesting goal objectives that are not being met in other parts of the country. It’s a biological way to look at how to harvest these animals and in New Mexico we are meeting our goals.

The public hearing was closed and the adopted rule changes were approved unanimously.

The next business item was related to the donation of permits and licenses to nonprofits. The new rule will be extended to go to nonprofits who serve veterans and first responders, in addition to youth. There was some debate about whether the nonprofit should be headquartered in New Mexico or not.

Vene Klasen spoke about this last aspect saying that he appreciated the comments about the state based NGOs being in New Mexico, but that we shouldn’t limit this just to state-based nonprofits. If the goal is to get first responders and youth into the field we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just state organizations. Even though we are a state based organization I think we should open it up to everybody.

The rule was amended to allow residents, veterans, and first responders to be included in the list of recipients of nonprofits, with the statement that corporate headquarters should be located in New Mexico taken out.

Agenda item 11 focused on proposed changes to management and method rule which were intended to simplify rules for anglers.

Vene Klasen spoke again, expressing excitement about the changes especially as we see more pressure on our public fisheries. He added that NMWF would love to help get youth out at stocking events or at events.

Eventually the commission got to trespass, related to the Stream Access Bill of 2015. Chairman Kienzle presented this agenda item and proposed putting together rules and regulations with regard to the codification of the existing law. The rule would essentially involve a certification for a landowner who has non-navigable water to apply to the department or commission to have that property certified. This certification would come with signs on the private property that borders sections of New Mexico streams. With that certification would come a piece of paper that recognizes that that is non-navigable as a property right. This would give law enforcement the knowledge that the department had been through a process to give more clarity on the ground. It would entail providing deeds, survey of the property affected, other evidence that shows that the landowner’s claims are legitimate. Public comment on the rule was supposed to be October 14th.

Vene Klasen spoke again saying, first and foremost we continue to see a lack of transparency in how the commission and the department publicly address stream access. “When you look at agenda item 12 on trespass, this is a stream access trespass issue. The general public would not know what this agenda item is really about. You’re a civil servant and if we’re going to talk about stream access, we would really appreciate everyone to know what you’re talking about. NMWF believes there is an anti-donation violation with the proposed rule, and would appreciate that the commission consider that. We would appreciate you to keep an open mind about all these issues.

Kienzle closed the agenda by saying the new rules are designed to provide clarity.

Post meeting, the commission has requested a delay in this rule.

Agenda item 13 dealt with the collection of shed antlers, which is gaining in popularity. During the season when elk and deer shed their antlers, animals are at their most vulnerable. Coming out of the lean winter months elk, deer and antelope are generally in poor condition and a weakened state. Pressuring animals at this time can cause serious damage to the herd and their unborn fawns/calves.

Commissioner Ramos said we might need to change the language and maybe even have a proposed shed season. If we protect our New Mexico residents  they’re the ones who are going to get that money back into our economy.

Sloane said a lot of northern states have sheds closed based on migratory elk herds and calving grounds, putting a limit on when people can get into certain areas. Vene Klasen commended the commission on taking this up which could be “a much bigger problem than we realize.”

The commission motioned to table the action item as there was no real consensus.

After a discussion on aircraft use during hunting seasons (which was eventually tabled), the commission came to agenda item 15 which was an update on carcass tagging. This was presented by Director Sandoval.

The department has come up with two options, one is a sticky tag issued by the Department. Hunters will need to tag the carcass and have a separate head tag. Non-antlered animals will require a head  tag. The department also just initiated a smartphone app, which includes a pilot program for electronic tagging. This allows individuals to submit their harvest information at the time of kill. Eventually, hunters will get to choose if they want the paper format or the app format, but they’ll need to choose one or the other. While the app is still in its pilot stages, everyone will need to use paper tag option.

Finally, Agenda 16 included a presentation by Lance Cherry on the new phone app. This app has tons of features and we encourage you to download it here!