Draft: 5-30-02 MINUTES
NEW MEXICO STATE GAME COMMISSION
Tierra Amarilla Complex Building
State Road 162
Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico 87575
May 10, 2002
9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 1. Meeting Called to Order
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 2. Roll Call
Director Bell Calls Roll:
Commissioner Thomas Growney -Present
Commissioner Tamara Hurt -Present
Commissioner George Ortega -Present
Commissioner Steve Padilla -Present
Commissioner James Weaver -Present
Commissioner Ray Westall -Present
Director Bell states there is a quorum.
Chairwoman Stevens stated there have been a lot of comments from the public in doing away with the speaker/comment cards. At this time, on a trial basis, the Commission will do away with them. Commission was in agreement.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. Introduction of Guests
Chairwoman Stevens requests introduction from the Audience.
Introduction is made.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 4. Approval of Minutes (March 29, 2002)
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to approve the March 29, 2002 Commission Meeting Minutes; Second by Commissioner Westall.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 5. Approval of Agenda
MOTION: Commissioner Westall moves to approve the agenda as presented; Second by Commissioner Weaver.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. Consent Agenda
MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to approve the Revocations on the Consent Agenda; Second by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Ortega asked if there was going to be a budget report/financial status report. Director Bell stated the presentation to follow would be the budget impact as a result of additional funding possibly coming out of Game Protection Fund for Eagle Nest Lake. It will give the Commission an overview of where the Department is. Commissioner Ortega asked if at this point the presentation does not include any possibilities of what would happen. Director Bell did not believe so, it is only the financial picture as it stands, expenditures for this year and does not make the predictions of what would happen with additional encumbrance out of Game Protection Fund for the acquisition of Eagle Nest Lake.
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to approve the Budget Report on the Consent Agenda; Second by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 7. Deer Management Update
Presented by Barry Hale - An update on the Department’s efforts to improve deer populations within New Mexico was presented species. The presentation included: basic deer natural history and biology; Department’s management approach; identification of various management strategies to protect and improve deer populations; general habitat requirements; population levels in 1926 through 2002; Factors leading to a decline in deer numbers was discussed and included continued loss of wintering habitat due to urban expansion, land conversion, gas/mineral exploration; diet; rut; adaptive behavior and predator swamping. Hale stated the key to population stability and increases is increasing fawn survival and hunting in the fall will not help improve fawn survival. Projects are being designed to protect, improve, and/or restore habitat. Other management actions such as law enforcement, limited hunting, are being considered, to protect deer and effect an increase in deer populations. The impact of accomplishment will be limited because of drought. Realistic expectations are necessary. Information was presented to the Commission pertaining to the Department’s draft recommendations for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 hunting seasons. The Department is recommending the State Game Commission support the planning, participation, and funding of not only restoration projects, but also other management strategies and actions designed to protect and improve New Mexico deer populations.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Padilla stated the one item not mentioned that took place in 26-34 and 41 was modern game management and law enforcement which did not exist before 26 to any great extent. There was year round hunting, market hunting, etc. and those deer numbers were low. Hale stated he basically started from this point and there were other things as suggested as the Department started offering protection to those species through the enforcement and regulations at that time. Commissioner Growney asked what a reasonable goal for the New Mexico deer herd currently estimated by the Department’s estimates at 110 thousand given the current circumstances, weather, loss of habitat, etc. Hale stated it would be difficult to say because of the number of factors mentioned. The Department is on the fringe of the distribution that is going to be effected to a greater detail by the type of situation. Hale stated he tends to move away from giving estimates simply because the Department does not survey the whole state, the resources are not available to do that. Certain areas are concentrated upon and attempt to maximize dollars by also counting deer while on elk surveys. To give a number would be a disservice, but if necessary he would say somewhere between 120 thousand would be reasonable, but again is quite a spread. Commissioner Growney felt there should be some reasonable way of monitoring whatever plan the Department is going to implement. Hale stated he would address some of that on a site-specific area. Director Bell stated some of the information that leads to that comes out of the historical record. For instance, in 1926, the account for caring capacity of deer in NM and remembering what the urbanization picture might of looked at in 1926 along with the habitat assessment at that time estimated at 200 thousand deer would be the caring capacity for NM. It has been relied on historically in numerous other literature and technical papers. Given that we now have more urbanization, 200 thousand might be too high to achieve. Realistically it will have to be below that because of all factors.
Hale stated there are a number of things the Department is proposing to improve deer populations. There is the STAMP Project where there is a collaboration of private landowners doing what they can as far as on the ground management practices to improve the quality of habitat. That is monitored by individual body condition of deer. The Department is not proposing the adaptive management approach; management actions will be put on the ground and will be monitored primarily thru surveys. Some of the body conditions may be used in certain locations. What the Department wants to do is a little different and that is to identify an approach that is very systematic and methodical, a long-term approach. Through surveys in the NW corridor we will identify where there are core deer herds and do a thorough assessment, take a look at unoccupied adjacent habitat and determine the difference. Based upon the assessment, propose interventions, if possible, then improve that habitat to expand distribution. These will be small changes but will be a sound approach to improve numbers. If this is done in a number of locations it is felt the overall population will be improved. Some of the interventions will be to thin, burn; create water developments, water leases, supplemental feeding, and translocation. Predator control will also be looked at. Those interested in doing this are Forest Service, BLM, Native American Reservations, small and large landowners, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others. Possible funding sources include Habitat Stamp dollars, Farm Bill Program dollars, Partnership Act, etc. Hale stated if there is a commitment, there will be some great resources dedicated to this. Hale concluded the Department will look into research that will help with management tools, expanding body condition, nutrition, re-look at pregnancy rates, etc. Hale asked the Commission, as far as the proposed projects, if the commitment would be there. These are long-term plans; the NW project is a 15 to 20 year plan.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens stated she felt the Department is headed in the right direction with habitat restoration and in trying to get in on the foundation. Commissioner Hurt would like to see a comparison of what happened since 1960 with elk herd populations in comparison to deer. Commissioner Westall would like the Department to look into hunting deer from September through January, especially in SE New Mexico. He felt its really hurt the herds especially with the later rifle hunt in November/December. A major number of bucks were taken and feels hunts should be limited until the herd numbers come up. Hale stated as the Department presents the 2-year regulation, that will be the time those will be opened, the Department does have a preliminary recommendation, but between now and November there will be plenty of time for input and evaluation of those strategies. Director Bell stated those are the exact kind of strategies the Department looks at to minimize the impact and disturbance of the deer during the rut and then intensify in and around fawning seasons. Chairwoman Stevens commented that what is good for the southern portion of the state may not be good for the northern portion of the state. There are vast differences from one end of the state to the other, and the Department takes all that into consideration in the management. Commissioner Padilla asked if it was known what kind of results were obtained from a study done in Utah on predator control during fawning season. Also, the State of Washington went to a three-point or better on their bucks because mule deer herds were down and asked Hale for comments. Hale stated the predator control was considered the 6th high priority deer areas when the project was developed. Contractors are hired to go in from January through June to trap coyotes. The Department is in its 3rd season now, and this is proposed for a 3-year project. In looking at the populations of those 6 areas only one shows improvement in numbers with the others indicating stable to declining population. That could be a result of drought. Hale was not aware of any results as far as Washington and their three point restriction because this is their first year of implementation.
Statewide Deer Entry The statewide deer entry harvest strategy was reviewed. Maps of current harvest from deer license sales, over the counter and deer entry was shown. Hale reviewed the plus’s and minus’ of a statewide deer entry. The current recommendation maintains this current mixture of over the counter and deer entry. With deer entry, to limit the impact/harvest, number of permits could be reduced. With the over the counter, other strategies have to be used to reduce mortality. Some hunt periods were cut, eliminated some hunt periods, cut down on season lengths or scheduled those seasons during the week. The other part of the recommendation is the January bow hunt. It has been maintained and it has been shortened, but moved it later to start January 15. This has removed hunting during the rut to confine breeding into those one or two estruses that are occurring in December so when they fawn that fawning period is restricted and the impact from predation is minimized.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens asked Hale to state the total number of units. Hale stated there are 33 to 40 units open, all or in part to over the counter with various weapon types, approximately 20 units, all or in part in deer entry, more if you count sub-units. Setting and limiting the number of hunters in those units could obtain enhancement through the statewide draw system. Higher success rates can be obtained. If unit is determined to hold more deer the season can be expanded to improve quality of hunt. Improve hunter harvest report can be obtained because of draw system. Some of the drawbacks mentioned were that the harvest regulation will not improve fawn survival. By trying to move hunting out of rut to try to remove or reduce that breeding time then ultimately the fawning time, maybe fawn survival can be improved by less predator impact.
Doug Auckland, Four Corner Bow Hunters, San Juan Archers, Farming, Aztec area, NW New Mexico Suggested Department be cautious on making deer entry statewide.
Richard Becker Need further research on deer numbers on fawn survival. Willing to support Departments recommendation if committed to long time objective.
R.L Posey, Mayhill Agrees deer population is down. Proactive role in Lincoln National Forest has been taken thinning out trees that are affecting habitat.
Jacob Cullins Not in agreement with statewide deer entry. Close deer season for 2 years to build up herds, but start with closing to non-residents.
Ed Machin Suggest Game Department communicate with NM State’s Legacy Program that allows landowners to sell development rights to protect land.
Henry Ulibarri, Licensed Vendor, and Private Landowner Feels there are not enough bucks in Units 5 and 51 and northeast side of Unit 4. Lots of does, but no bucks. If trying to build up herd some of the hunts need to be eliminated. Also, as a licensed vendor, feels Unit 4 is 80-90 percent privately owned and should have hunters get permission to hunt on private lands prior to obtaining license.
Jose B. Archuletta Welcomed Commission to Tierra Amarilla. Feels better predator control is needed. Not in agreement with statewide draw recommendation.
Commissioner Padilla asked in the western states how many were over the counter vs. draw. Hale stated most all were in some part in the draw. Chairwoman Stevens asked Hale if all of those states are continuing to have a declining deer population. Hale stated that was correct and the message needed to be clear this was not going to grow deer, but help protect what they can. Commissioner Padilla differed with that statement by stating not all western states are experiencing a decline. There are a number reversing that trend and deer are starting to increase. Chairwoman Stevens stated she has heard some are stable, but not of any necessarily on the increase. Chairwoman Stevens asked Hale if poaching was under control. Hale did not have that information at this time. Director Bell stated law enforcement data would be put together and brought back before the Commission at the June meeting. Chairwoman Stevens would like to see the information currently in hand fine-tuned by area. You cannot blanket the entire state; each area needs to be managed for that area and encouraged the Department to continue in that avenue. Commissioner Hurt stated the southern end of her ranch is all private property; gates have been closed on it since 1983 so hunting in that area was controlled. She has not seen an increase in mule deer by controlling that property but rather a decline. Commissioner Hurt felt the draw would not make a huge impact. Hale reiterated that would not grow the deer but the key is the other effort. Commissioner Padilla asked Mr. Vacker, Vermejo Ranch, if numbers were coming back with the work they have done. Mr. Vacker stated Vermejo has thinned the ecosystem, had prescribed burns and was a good example of what Mr. Hale presented. The Vermejo was a good example of restoring deer by better habitat management. Long term thinning, will be more benefit to elk rather than to deer. Commissioner Padilla asked Mr. Vacker if deer were hunted on the Vermejo. Yes, but limited.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. Gray-Banded Kingsnake Recovery Plan.
Presented by Charlie Painter - A revised draft of the state Recovery Plan for the gray-banded kingsnake was presented. Painter stated the plan was developed based upon information obtained during the listing investigation for the species, input from the public meetings and advisory committee for the recovery plan, and additional research by Department staff and other experts. Components of this plan included the following: 1) recovery criteria based upon both the documented distribution of the species and the security offered the species through conservation actions undertaken by the Department and other entities, 2) use of volunteered public information regarding possible observations of gray-banded kingsnakes to help support the Department’s compilation of records of occurrences of the species within New Mexico, 3) additional public information and outreach activities to emphasize the importance of protection of this species against illegal collecting, 4) allowance of limited possession of gray-banded kingsnakes by snake enthusiasts and breeders who were in possession of snakes collected outside of New Mexico prior to the listing of the gray-banded kingsnakes as “endangered” in New Mexico. This limited possession is strictly for the scientific and biological purposes of reducing the demand and value for wild-caught snakes from New Mexico, 5) clarification of the Director’s Amphibian and Reptile List that identifies those species of native species that receive protection from commercial collecting under the amphibian and reptile protection law passed during the 2001 legislative session, and 6) law enforcement efforts targeted at peak times for gray-banded kingsnake collecting. The Department is recommending that the Recovery Plan be approved at this time. The revised draft incorporates a cost estimate for implementing the actions identified and comments submitted by members of the advisory committee.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Weaver commended the Department with effort put into the kingsnake plan.
MOTION: Commissioner Weaver moves to accept the Departments recommendation as presented; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
Director Bell noted the addition of the action and the operational phases are key components so the public and the Commission can see exactly where the Department is going with their effort and begin to prepare the associated cost. Director Bell recognized the staff for their effort in compiling the data.
Director Bell stated Vermejo Park Ranch and the Turner Endangered Species Fund have been working on a project involving Black-tailed prairie dog on the ranch. They have incorporated some of that into the Black-tailed prairie dog recovery team. Director Bell stated Mr. Phillips was here today at his request. He said that Turner Endangered Species Fund desires to go forward with the reintroduction of Black-footed Ferret into their colony of Black-tail prairie dogs. That species not being in New Mexico he felt it was imperative that the Commission hears the discussion and gives their views and opinions on the ability to go forward with the project. Director Bell stated his recommendation to the Turner Endangered Species Fund, in looking at this, needed Commission concurrence, as well as to assure these efforts were adopted into and accepted and recognized on the Federal Recovery effort for the Black-footed Ferret as well.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 9. Black-footed Ferret Recovery.
Presented by Mike Phillips, Executive Director, Turner Endangered Species Fund Mr. Phillips presented a proposal to investigate means of advancing black-footed ferret preconditioning through controlled and managed releases of black-footed ferrets at Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch. The purpose of these experimental releases of black-footed ferrets at Vermejo Park would be to provide exposure of ferrets to prairie dog complexes for a fixed amount of time, before they are recaptured and relocated as part of ferret reintroduction programs.
Doug Auckland, Four Corner Bow Hunters, San Juan Archers, San Juan Archers Asked on the statement made by Mr. Phillips reintroduced elsewhere where elsewhere was
DISCUSSION: Mr. Phillips stated Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, and Utah. There is no active restoration work going on in New Mexico. Although, 10-15 year out they hope this is a logical way to move in the direction of restoring the population. Mr. Auckland asked is this included public as well as private land. Phillips stated there work would be focused at Vermejo. The issue here today is a research project involving a small number of ferrets that would be free ranging for a period of time. They would be monitored and managed and not allowed to range wild. That would defeat the purpose of the research project. Director Bell stated currently nothing is in the works for release; this simply applies to using a confined portion of Vermejo Park for use in recovery efforts going on in other states. Release in New Mexico at this time is far off and not a consideration. Director Bell asked Mr. Phillips if the Department agreed to bring the Black-footed Ferret in under the research conditions would it be brought in as an experimental non-essential or under full protection of the Act. Mr. Phillips stated there are two options. One would be a reintroduction of animals for research purposes that are fully endangered under federal law. If that was not the best way to proceed, they could build an administrative structure based on Section 10J of the Endangered Species Act that would allow those animals be considered experimental/non-essential which would provide both the State and Federal Government adequate opportunity to ensure that the ferrets were not a unnecessary burden on local landowners or public land. The reason they are most inclined to pursue the research permit is that experimental/non-essential has been reserved for application to programs that were attempting to restore a population. There is no attempt to restore a population, this is strictly a research proposal to see if they can build a better ferret program and generate new awareness and public support for the recovery program.
Henry Ulibarri In favor of plan.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens stated for informational purposes their organization would be bearing the financially responsibility for the research project. If the Game Department directs them into the research will not be financially responsible for any part of it. Chairman Stevens asked for a synopsis of what the research would entail. Phillips stated they are proposing two approaches. The first option would involve release of female black-footed ferrets with kits into prairie dog burrows, which would initially be surrounded with aboveground retention baskets to ensure fidelity of ferrets to the site. Phillips stated under this option, females and kits would remain in the wild for 3-4 months and then be recaptured for release at other locations, or other aspects of the black-footed ferret recovery program. The second option would only involve releases of black-footed ferret kits. These kits would then be kept in the wild for approximately 1 year, until they would be recaptured to support ferret releases programs at other locations. Commissioner Padilla asked if they were making similar requests in other states. Phillips stated they hope to very soon but they have active restoration efforts in South Dakota. Today is the very first proposal to a State Game Commission. Chairwoman Stevens for clarification stated what the Department is requesting is to give them direction up to and including giving the Department direction in issuing a permit. Phillips extended an invitation to the Commission to view the project at their ranch. Director Bell stated the main thing the Department wished to do is get the Commission in on the ground floor. Turner Endangered Species Fund fully recognizes the State has to be a participant and the Department controls the import and release of animals into the wild. They are here before the Commission out of courtesy. The later decision would be, if the Commission at some point in time would want to participate in releases into the wild in New Mexico and try to recover, through reintroduction, the Black-footed ferret in this State. Commissioner Ortega asked what the negative aspect from the ferret would be once they populate. Phillips stated, given the difficulty of growing the ferrets, they will always be localized. Commissioner Weaver asked what the specific objections to the 10J status to this experiment. Phillips stated from an administrative standpoint it was somewhat complicated. It requires a rule making process, a much more extensive involved public process. It is inconsistent with the history of that application of the section of the Act. A 10J has not been used that often and it has always been employed when the objective is to restore a population, not employed to conduct the research. The Act specifically is written to allow for research, it is not a Section 10J permit, but rather a Section 10A-1A research permit which is ideally suited as long as the Federal Government will craft enough flexibility to ensure that the concerns of the citizens are addressed. If they don’t, then he strongly recommends they move in the direction of Section 10J. Commissioner Weaver stated he would like to see the considerations for 10J status expanded. Mike Lockhart stated all the ferret reintroductions in the United States are conducted under section 10J. It is a process they would like to reserve for experimental populations established on the ground. In this particular case any animal that would escape or become established anywhere else would not survive because the population of prairie dogs is such that will not make it in the wild. Phillips stated it is their belief that they would be able to work with all the local people and the State Game & Fish Department to develop a management strategy, but the 10J itself takes up to two years to implement. Commissioner Weaver felt this might be a good time to expand the 10J, streamline them and make them workable. Chairwoman Stevens asked if any public work has been done in the Raton area. Phillips stated they have not elevated the public profile of this idea. They have worked with the Service and Director Bell’ staff and now the Commission. There has to be a significant outreach effort and that is why all of 2003 has been targeted for implementation of this research project. Chairwoman Stevens informed the Commission they did not have to act upon this today and the agenda could be tabled in order to give them an opportunity to review the literature presented. It would also give the Commission an opportunity to tour the facility as Mr. Phillips suggested and also give the Department time to obtain public input before final direction is given. Commissioner Ortega stated after the information was reviewed the Commission might consider the route Commissioner Weaver suggested for a few years. Chairman Stevens asked if the Commission wished to take any direction today or like time to review the documents and address at the next Commission meeting.
Agenda Item tabled until the next Commission meeting. Chairwoman Stevens stated Director Bell would be in contact with Mr. Phillips to schedule tour of facility.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 10. Biennial Review
Chuck Hayes - The Department announced the availability of the draft Biennial Review of Threatened and Endangered Species. The Review contained an updated description of the distribution, status, threats, and a recommendation regarding the listing status of each of the 125 species listed as Threatened, endangered or Restricted under New Mexico’s Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA). Hayes stated by regulation, the draft Biennial Review must be available for public comment for a 90-day period. The open comment period will run through mid-August. Following the close of the 90-day public comment period, a recommendation that incorporates any applicable public comment and other new information will be presented to the State Game Commission. Hayes stated this Commission presentation opens another 14-day comment period, following which the final draft of the Biennial Review will be presented to the Commission for approval. The Department’s current recommendation for the Biennial Review is to maintain the listing status of all 117 species.
R. L. Posey, Mayhill, NM Recommends Department study closely the impacts and the effects it has on landowners property rights.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: None
MOTION: Commissioner Weaver moves to accept the Department’s recommendation; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 11 Disposal of Department Fixed Assets.
Presented by Patrick Block Block stated the NM Department of Public Safety will be conducting its yearly public auction for state government surplus property on July 27, 2002 at the State Police Complex. The Department is requesting approval from the Commission to sell Department vehicles, computer items and other miscellaneous equipment. The vehicles have high mileage, are no longer cost effective to maintain and have been replaced with new vehicles. All other items have been deemed obsolete and are unusable. In accordance with Sections 13-6-1 and 16-6-2 of the New Mexico Statutes, the Department is required to obtain State Game Commission approval prior to disposing of fixed assets. The Department is recommending that the Commission approve the request to dispose of the listed items.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Padilla asked the net value of 98 Ford PU listed and the NADA value. Director Bell stated this is vehicle forfeited as a result of a finding of guilt for the crime of spotlighting. When there is a lean on those vehicles there is a third party involved and that is whoever holds the title. The Department’s action is against the actual individual/owner of the vehicle. It has been the custom and practice of the Department to pay off the leans to get the debtor out of the way and then take the vehicle away from the actual owner. Commissioner Padilla stated, for example, if the NADA loan was 12,000 and you pay off 15,300, auction it off and only get 11 or 12,000 you are loosing money. Director Bell stated that was correct and it does happen, but in the total program the Department has always come out with additional money into that program. They pay off some that are 15 and sell them for 12, others are obtained for nothing and are sold for 15, and so the net gain in the program has always been a positive number. The deterrent effect served by sending a very strong message that if you hunt with artificial light you loose your vehicle was the message that we wanted sent. Commissioner Growney asked if the program in totality had always averaged out to the betterment of the State. Director Bell stated that was correct and the program has never been operated in the red, it has always been a positive program in the net.
MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to accept the list as presented with the one addition of the forfeited vehicle; Second by Commissioner Padilla.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 12. Recommendations/Concerns for Unit 34 Elk Permit Numbers. Presented by Alexa Sandoval The Department is recommending a reduction in the number of elk permits issued in GMU 34 for the upcoming 2002-2003 hunting season. This recommendation is based on the data collected during the winter elk population survey and concerns presented by several interested public and organizations. Total permit numbers vs. estimated harvest was reviewed. The Department recommendation is that the number of elk permits available for the 2002-2003 season be reduced from 4300 to 3137. Sandoval stated when the recommendations were put into regulation the permit numbers for Unit 34 there were a population estimate of approximately 4,000 animals that would be on the ground this fall of 2002. 4,300 permits is where the Regulation now sits. An ariel survey was conducted and it was found the population estimate for the fall of this year is less than 4,000. It is felt the population estimate is going to be 3.000.
Chairwoman Stevens introduced representatives from the Otero Sportsmen Association Tim Turri and James Teater and stated they would be presenting their views before the Commission.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Padilla asked what the land ratio was. Sandoval replied that in Unit 34 about 23% private, 77% public. It is mostly a public land unit. Commissioner Padilla asked of the harvest what the estimated recruitment would be. Sandoval stated about 500 animals into the 2003 hunt year.
Tim Turri and James Teater Representing the Otero County Sportsmen Association -
A petition was presented for the record with over 1,500 signatures to ensure the sportsmen’s rights are protected and quality of animals maintained. The petition indicated opposition to the elk management plan for Unit 34 in the Sacramento Mountains Range. It is their belief that the issuing of 4200 permits on a herd estimated at 3000 to 3500 animals is poor management and will be detrimental to the herd in the Unit. Proposed elk permits for Unit 34, 2002-03 season was submitted by the Association. Also entered into the record were some of the forage surveys and studies.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens asked the association if they would like to maintain the herd at around 2000 elk for this year to give time for further surveys. Turri stated they would like to see the herd managed for 2000 animals animal’s indefinitely and feels the unit will support those numbers and managing of the forage data would make more sense. Chairwoman Stevens stated with Department’s numbers it shows the survey completed this winter was 2500 and there will be approximately 500 recruitment. Come hunting season that will put the herd at 3000. If the Commission goes with the Department’s recommendation for the 3100 permits, of that 1200 hunters will be successful and again you have another 500 recruitment so that nets 700 out of that 3000 so come next year there would still be 2300 elk giving the Department 1 year to look at it again. Sandoval stated the difference between their recommendation and the Department’s is a difference of 350 to 400 animals that would be harvested. Chairwoman Stevens asked where the 4000 number came from. Sandoval stated that was last years pre hunt population estimate and that was estimate off of a 3000 winter population when they did the sight ability survey. Director Bell stated when sight ability surveys are done, for ease of discussion, they tend to limit that down to what sounds like a definite number. Reality in that population counting is there is a range. In reality there is between 2500 and 3000 animals there. Based on a sight ability index that can be said with 99% confidence. Commissioner Ortega asked if migration had been taken into consideration. Sandoval stated that is something that the Task Force is looking into but feels there is not a tremendous amount. Commissioner Padilla asked if there were still big bulls in that unit. Sandoval stated there were tremendous bulls in 34 sighted during the survey. Turri felt, with proper management, the unit it could be a premier unit in the whole country. Commissioner Hurt stated to her understanding, the USFS wants this decrease in elk to maintain habitat for endangered species, which is not necessarily an issue with livestock raising, although they both compete for the same thing. They want the livestock grazing to decrease as well as the elk because of the issues of endangered species. Director Bell stated there were 2 other driving factors: 1) for the range to be considered range ready for cattle grazing, the Forest Service, by court order, has to exhibit 1 inch of new growth and that is where the elk begin to have an impact. The elk move on to the range prior to the cattle and if there are sufficient numbers of elk to limit that new growth potential then it’s a longer period of time until it is range ready for restocking. 2) The other key factor is that the Department’s Master Agreement with the USFS that puts into play a condition where wildlife and cattle will be treated co-equally on the forest, wherein they each get 50% of the available forage. The available forage in that area under the FS Management Plan is 35%, forage monitoring efforts currently show that elk are grazing 53%, therefore a reduction needed.
Doug Auckland Asked how land was handling 4000 to begin with. Sandoval stated in the words of the Forest Service up to 2 years ago “in the ball park”, but because of the drought that is no longer true in terms of being able to meet their compliances.
John Boretsky, Director, NM Council of Guides and Outfitters Agrees herd does have to be reduced but feels numbers recommended by Department are too high.
Henry Irving In support of proposed elk permits in Unit 34 presented by the Otero
County Sportsmen’s Association.
R. L. Posey, Mayhill Submitted affidavit for the record. Affidavits consisted of resolution re: Management of Elk in Otero County. Also submitted was a copy of an e-mail concerning a legal case with respect to the property rights phase of Hage vs. United States. Ranchers do own grazing and water rights.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Ortega asked how many years back the Department could go to obtain the total number of permits allowed for that unit and the reported harvest. Is that where the 40% was obtained? Sandoval stated that was actually 43% of the average over a 3-year time frame. Director Bell stated from the best data available, the 3-year elk harvest in that area was 47%. The actual number of hunters has gone from 100 (YR-1997) up to a high of just over 2000 (YR-2000) permits and slated for the year 2002 is about 4000.
MOTION: Commissioner Westall moves to direct the Department to draw approximately 2800 permits; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. 5 vote in the affirmative, 1 negative. Motion carries.
Chairwoman Stevens introduces Olive Valdez, Commissioner, Colorado Fish and Game; Brad Phelps, Commissioner; Madison, Area Wildlife Manager from Monte Vista.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 12A. Recommendations for Units 8, 14, 6A/6C and 44/45 Deer Permit Numbers.
Director Bell informed the Commission that this item came about as a result of this year’s deer survey effort. The recommendations in the discussion draft of the Big Game Regulation was showing a need for some drastic permit reductions in some of those deer draw units. Rather than take that drastic reduction, since the surveys are indicating that’s needed, to propose some interim numbers in the listed deer draw areas for this year, reduce the number of permits indifference to the indication of the deer populations in those areas. These are already proposed in the Regulation and Proclamation up-to numbers. The Department is asking the Commission’s permission, not for a regulation change, but permission to draw under the maximum that is listed in the current regulation.
Presented by Luis Rios A presentation was given on the proposed number of permits to be drawn in units for the current season that open April 1 and will be drawn for in June. 2002-03 deer units 6A; 6C; 8, 14, 44 and 45. Rios stated as with the previous agenda item, this does not require an amendment to the rule. The numbers are presently up-to numbers and at this point the Department is seeking concurrence from the Commission to draw less than those numbers. Also, as an avenue to inform the public, that the Department is seeking to draw less than what has been advertised. The reason for seeking the Commission’s concurrence to reduce those numbers is concern for deer populations that have been identified and placed into the new draft of the regulation for the next couple of years. Up-to permit numbers per unit were presented to the Commission.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: None
MOTION: Commissioner Weaver moves to accept the Department’s recommendation; Second by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 13 2003-2005 Big Game Rule Making Process - Hunting and Fishing License Application 19.31.3 NMAC, Big Game 19.31.8 NMAC, Hunting and Fishing Manner & Method of Taking 19.31.10 NMAC, Boundary Descriptions for Wildlife Management Units 19.30.4 NMAC; and Private Land elk License Allocation 19 30.5 NMAC will be open for amendment.
Presented by Luis Rios Rios stated the current Big Game Rule expires March 31, 2003. A process has been developed to gather public input and Commission direction to establish hunt seasons in 2003-04 and 2004-05. The draft rule presented proposes similar hunt structures to current big game seasons with some modifications. Rios stated the recommendations will be available for on-going discussion throughout the summer for action at the October Commission meeting. Because of the nature of some of the changes in rules there are other associated rules that are also affected by virtue of having a new big game rule. As the draft changes it is entirely likely that additional rules will also be open. These will need to remain open until the final adoption of this rule.
Proposed changes to Big Game and Furbearer Regulations for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 Seasons are as follow: Deer: 1. There will be significant reductions in deer draw permits for unit 6A, 6C, 14, 44/45 and the Colin Neblett WMA. 2. The adult bow hunt will be eliminated in the Sandia Ranger District in Unit 8. 3. The Department recommends that the Burro Mountain area of Game Management Unit 23 reopen as a draw unit for rifle and bow hunting and recommends that Unit 5B reopen as a draw unit for rifle hunting. 4. Subdivide Unit 2B to create a new Unit 2C. Add draw hunts in 2C for rifle, bow and muzzleloader. 5. Move the January bow hunt season back two weeks and shorten them to 7 days, with a mid-week opening. The season would run from Jan. 15- 21. 6. Require bow hunters to choose one unit for both the September and January hunts. Bow hunters who are unsuccessful in the September bow season may go again in the same unit during the Jan. 15-21 season. 7. Change the primitive weapon hunts in units 19 and 27 to muzzleloader only hunts and move the Unit 19 Organ Mountain muzzleloader hunt back from Jan. 1-5 to Oct. 25-29. Elk: 1. Increase the number of elk permits in the following Game Management Units: 5B, 6B, 7, 9, 12, 13, 16B, 16E, 23, 43, 50, 53 and 54. 2. Decrease the number of elk permits in the following Game Management Units: 2, 4, 5A, 6C, 10, 15, 16A, 16D, 18, 21B, 22A, 22B, 24, 34, 36, 44/45, 49 and 55. 3. Open Unit 13 to rifle hunting. Pronghorn Antelope: 1. In the Southwest Area, hunts for bow and handicapped hunters will be for a specific antelope management unit. 2. Open selected ranches in the NE Area for private land pronghorn doe (female or immature) hunts. Bighorn sheep: 1. Issue 10 ewe permits for the Pecos herd and 8 ewe permits for the Wheeler Peak herd. Both herds are approaching carrying capacity. 2. Allow the auction and raffle hunt winners a longer time in which to hunt. Ibex:
1. Increase bow hunting permits from the current five to 30 permits. Turkey: 1. Increase Unit 2 draw permits from 40 to 80. 2. Establish a spring turkey draw season on the Valle Vidal. This hunt will be limited to 20 hunters. Javelina: 1. Increase javelina permit numbers to coincide with the number of the previous year’s applications. The Department plans to offer 600 permits in Units 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 30, 31 and 1300 permits in Units 23-27.
2. Move the javelina hunts scheduled in early January back to begin January 15. Barbary sheep: 1. Move the statewide hunt from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15 to Feb. 1-28. Oryx: 1. Increase the maximum number of WSMR permits to 1510. Return to two-day, on-range hunts (discontinued after Sept. 11, 2001 due to security concerns) and a three-day Christmas hunt. Allow bow and muzzleloader use only during the first two days of the Christmas hunt. Allow two hunters per hunting party with one guest per hunter, four people total. Allow two hunters to apply on each special hunt application. Hunts will be scheduled over 11 weekends. Up to two people may apply on the same application for the WSMR hunt. If drawn, these hunters must hunt together in the same vehicle. 2. The Department is working with Fort Bliss to manage oryx on their military lands. Some areas on Fort Bliss may open only to full-time active military personnel. Bear: 1. Shorten the August hunt period to Aug. 1631 and disallow the use of dogs during all August bear hunts. 2. Eliminate the second bear tag. The bag limit will become one bear.3. Open Unit 12 to bear hunting. Cougar: 1. The Department recommends no changes.
Furbearers: 1. Require all trappers to carry some type of trap release device.
2. Allow the use of traps with a seven-inch jaw spread. 3. Allow Department officers to enforce laws prohibiting stolen or molested traps.
Chairwoman Stevens reiterated this agenda item is strictly for the purpose of opening the rules so the Department can go forward and will remain open until final decision is made which will be October/November. The Department will be doing extensive input until then. Based on that, no public input will be taken at this time.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: None.
MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to open all the rules as outlined by the Department: Second by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
Chairwoman Stevens requested Agenda Item Number 18 be presented prior to Agenda Item 14. Commission was in agreement.
Director Bell recognized Mark Valenzuela, Legislative Finance Committee Analyst for Department of Finance and Administration for this Agency and for the Legislative Finance.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18 Game Protection and Bond Interest Money for the purchase of Eagle Nest Lake.
Presented by Patrick Block The Department of Game and Fish may be asked to contribute more than the original $5.0 million previously approved by the State Game Commission for the purchase of Eagle Nest Lake ($3.0 refund from lease agreement plus $2.0 million authorized as part of the legislative package approved last fall). The impact of additional funding for eagle Nest Lake at various levels has been estimated and information was presented before the Commission in March 2002. The Department is recommending that no more than an additional $3.5 million, $8.5 million total. Block stated this will ensure the viability of the Department’s cash balance until the fiscal year 2005 and will also allow the Department to continue with already approved capital projects such as the warm water hatchery. If this is allowed, a license fee increase will be required by April 1, 2005.
Chairwoman Stevens recapped that the Commission had previously approved up to 5 million to be taken out of Department monies for the purchase of Eagle Nest Lake. The remaining 15 million would come from the state and other funds. Currently the State is in a no budget time and no one knows what will come of it so the Commission is trying to be proactive. In this issue coming back up again, it does look like they will be going into special session at which time Eagle Nest Lake will be reconsidered. If it is reconsidered it is believed the Commission will be asked to come up with more than 5 million dollars. In trying to be proactive, if we can come up with money, where would we like them to take it keeping in mind that should it pass the Legislature they are at their free will to take whatever amount and from wherever. Hopefully, they would adhere or at least take into consideration the Commission’s recommendations. What needs to be kept in mind is the full amount is 20 million dollars. If the Commission goes to 8 million, that is a percentage of 25% coming from the sportsmen to purchase Eagle Nest Lake with 75% coming from the general public.
Richard Becker Encourage Department to go forward with this. If you could get 10,000 people to donate 1 hundred dollars this would equal 1 million which could be given to the Department or State. Asked if it could it be done legally. Director Bell stated the State is legally able to accept donations of cash through gift or bequest.
Ed Machin Eagle Nest Lake is a must. Does not care for idea of funds coming out of Game Protection Fund. Would not like to see an increase in license fees.
R. L. Posey Is in favor of purchasing Eagle Nest Lake.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Padilla stated he was told the 500 thousand would not be available out of the Bond Interest Fund, but was told today it was not true. Director Bell stated the confusion came about a discussion on the agencies ability to sell bonds and it has been determined that the authorization to sell bonds no longer exists. But the 500 thousand is cash in the Bond Interest Retirement Fund that could be used without the need to sell bonds. Commissioner Padilla stated the Commission has approved 5 million dollars and it was a hard fought battle to obtain that amount. This increase of 3.5 million is very excessive for the Department. Commissioner Padilla would like to see the Legislature go after the money from those towns in the NE that were crying over so much loss of revenue to their economies because of the loss of the lake and let the Legislature talk to those people. Chairwoman Stevens asked Mr. Valenzuela if he had any comments about possibilities of money coming from other avenues. Valenzuela stated they are not looking at those other financing cost possibilities at this time but if there is more financing they are willing to take a look at in special session. Commissioner Padilla stated in his conversations with some Senator’s they indicated they are open to suggestions from the Commission. Valenzuela stated they welcomed those suggestions to bring forth ideas on financing and if municipalities have funding that would lessen the impact. Commissioner Padilla stated leadership in both houses is telling him they are open to listen to ideas. Chairwoman Stevens asked if it was a make or break it deal to come up with additional funds. Valenzuela stated that was not so. If there is more financing out there they will be willing to take a look at it. There are a lot of pressing needs that the Legislature will be taking up during the Special Session. In regards to Eagle Nest there is still a 6 million dollar liability that they are told exists with the dam that will need to be addressed. There are still other areas out there that financing is needed for. If the municipalities have the funding he is sure the Legislature will be happy to have them contribute and that could mitigate or lessen the impact of either the General Fund or Game Protection Fund. Commissioner Hurt asked for clarification. The last increase in licenses was 1997, how long before that was there an increase? Director Bell stated they went through a little time there where a fee increase was implemented then a fee decrease followed. The general trend throughout the Department’s history is a fee increase about every 12 to 13 years. Chairwoman Stevens asked if it was known what the fee increase would be. Director Bell stated those figures were not put together but that would be gauged upon comparison of fees from surrounding states. Typically we are a lot lower than the surrounding states but that is not the case at this time. Chairwoman Stevens stated most are concerned about fee increase for residents and asked what the last increase was to residents. Pat Block stated the increase for residents was somewhere in the mid-eighties. Roberta Henry added there was not an across the board percentage, there was about a 30% increase. Chairwoman Stevens stated she did not know of too many recreational activities one could do that has absolutely no increase in the fee for 10 or 12 years. Commissioner Ortega felt it was something that is inevitable whether the lake is purchased or not. If we don’t purchase the lake we would loose 30 thousand anglers, license fees would be lost, so you would still be looking at an increase if we buy the lake you would have the 30 thousand plus in fees that will be collected plus the fact that it puts some dent in our cash balance that will have to be recovered through an increase. It would be a big loss to lose Eagle Nest Lake. Chairwoman Stevens agreed and stated direction needed to be given to the Department. Director Bell stated this was not a recommendation, but presenting a package and asked the Commission if they wished the Department to support in the Legislature the 3 million amount as far as endorsement of the funding package in the upcoming special session. Commissioner Westall felt the Commission needed to let the Legislature know the fee increase was needed and may have to push out the warm water hatchery. Chairwoman Stevens asked if it should be a package deal. Director Bell felt that as far as budget goes, weather the 3 or 3.5 million was done would not make a significant change on what that does to a fee increase. If the Commission is considering that it would be wise to just endorse the package as presented and endorse that package to the Legislature. Commissioner Padilla suggested when speaking of a package deal approving the 3.5 million but requiring a special use permit for a period of time on Eagle Nest Lake to recover some of the money. Chairwoman Stevens stated what she was hearing from sportsmen is they were fed up with stamps.
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to endorse the package as presented by the Department; Second by Commissioner Weaver.
Commissioner Padilla requested a roll call vote.
ROLL CALL VOTE: Director Bell call roll on the motion to endorse the Legislative Package as presented.
Commissioner Growney Yes
Commissioner Hurt - Yes
Commissioner Ortega Yes
Commissioner Padilla No
Commissioner Weaver Yes
Commissioner Westall Yes
Commissioner Weaver encouraged the Wildlife Federation not to give up on this. Get to the legislators and let them know you’re trying to drum up some money and want this to happen.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 14 Headquarters Building Phase II.
Presented by Jeff Pederson A slide presentation was given showing the Department owned property on Richards Avenue. The proposal was to sell warehouse property for a minimum of 1 million bid. Proceeds would be used for construction of phase II.
Chairwoman Stevens requested that in light of the Eagle Nest issue she would like to see this Agenda Item tabled until the June Commission meeting in order to see what comes of the legislative package.
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to table Agenda Item 14; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 15 - Big Game 19.31.8 NMAC will be open for amendment and discussion.
Presented by Luis Rios The NM Department of Game and Fish rescheduled oryx draw hunts on the White Sands Missile Range during the 2001-02 license year. The changes were made to allow for oryx hunting while addressing WSMR’s access and security concerns. Once the hunts were rescheduled, the Department informed hunters of their new hunt dates and allowed them to accept this new hunt or to request a refund and reinstatement of their once in a lifetime status. The Department is requesting the Commission consider a similar change for hunters who participated in the rescheduled hunts that were held on February 16th and 17th, 2002. The hunts were on the Small Missile Range and due to weather and other factors hunter success was unusually low. The Department is recommending that the Commission approve the request to change the once in a lifetime status, but not to refund the license fees. This will allow the Department to maintain consistency with past refund policy.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens understood it was special circumstances but had concerns that it might possibly open up a can of worms in a couple of years, nothing to the magnitude of September 11, but special circumstance to someone else. They might come up and say you did this for these people, why can’t you do it for me. The other concern is the accept/decline form and it is cut and dry. It has the hunt code, hunt date, accept or decline, accept the terms and does not feel the Department is amiss in their instructions. The form was handled responsibly and it was the hunter’s responsibility. Once signed it states the terms of the hunt were accepted and they are responsible for their hunt. Commissioner Growney asked the amount of hunters affected. Steve Henry stated there were a total, originally, of about 970 and about 700+ accepted to go on the hunts with the new letter. About 20-30 did write it down but showed up on their original date after the form was signed. Chairwoman Stevens stated the hunters signed the document but did not read what they were signing and this was a legal document.
Ed Machin If a document is signed and a commitment made it needs to be recorded and documented, otherwise the hunter passes up the opportunity.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Hurt was in favor. When the rules were changed, because of September 11, and someone has a question about their hunt they go back to the proclamation. The hunts were changed from what was in the proclamation; the hunts were changed from what their original license was. Commissioner Hurt stated she was not saying that they were not responsible and felt a refund should not be made. But being that it was a once in a lifetime hunt felt the 20-30 people should be able to go back in and apply for an oryx hunt on the Range. Commissioner Padilla stated the only problem he had with Commissioner Hurt’s statement was there were quite a few hunters unhappy with the date assigned to them on the second go round and protested. It would be real easy for someone who did not like the date to say “I didn’t see it” and wants to be reinstated. Commissioner Padilla felt everyone should be treated the same. Commissioner Ortega was not in favor of refunding, but the opportunity to apply again would be fair.
MOTION: Commissioner Westall moves to allow a reinstatement with no refund; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 16 Big Game 19.31.8 NMAC will be open for amendment and discussion
Presented by Kerry Mower At the March 29, 2002 Commission meeting, it was reported that the Department had collected brainstems from about 200 elk and deer during the 2001-02 hunt season. Mower stated brainstems are collected as a part of the Department surveillance program to monitor for presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in New Mexico. It was also reported that the number of hunters bringing the Department their freshly killed deer heads had been disappointingly low. The Commission suggested the Department offer incentive license authorizations similar to the elk and oryx incentive license authorizations now awarded by lottery to seven hunters who have returned their deer and elk hunter reports. Mower stated some modifications of the big game regulation must be made to make additional authorizations available for award by lottery to randomly selected hunters from among those who bring in a deer or elk head from which an appropriate brain sample may be collected. The department is recommending making one authorization for a Valle Vidal elk license and one authorization for an oryx license available to randomly award to hunters from among all hunters who bring in a deer or elk head from which a sample may be taken to test for CWD. These hunts would be exempt from once in a lifetime hunt. To qualify, the hunter must bring the deer or elk head to a designated Department collection station within 48 hours of the kill, never having been frozen, and not having autolyzed. The authorization will be drawn at the time the other incentive licenses are drawn.
Ed Machine In favor of incentive program.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Westall asked if it took a big set up to take the samples. Mower stated no, minor tools, jars etc. and the cost was low. Commissioner Westall suggested contacting taxidermists and sending someone by to take the sample. Mower felt that was a good suggestion and felt a good response could be obtained from doing that. Chairwoman Stevens asked where samples were being sent for testing. Mower stated they all go to the State Lab in Wyoming and that he knows of only 3 labs set up for CWD testing. (Wyoming, Colorado and National Veterinary Services in Iowa.) Commissioner Padilla suggested that in addition to taxidermist, the wild game meat processors should also be contacted. Also, if someone applies and draws is that the only license they could have for that year. Mower stated that was correct, but that license is exempt from once in a lifetime. The following year they could continue to apply, but if by chance they drew another elk license they would have to make a choice. Chairwoman Stevens stated it would have to be submitted prior to the 48 hours in order for them to go into the draw. Mower stated that was so and the reason is because the brain autolyzes quickly and after 48 hours you cannot hold on to it tight enough to get it out in tact. Chairwoman Stevens felt the Department, through advertisement, make it very clear for the sportsmen. Commissioner Ortega felt one page of the proclamation should be dedicated towards CWD.
MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moves to dedicate one page on the proclamation dedicated towards CWD; Second by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
Chairwoman Stevens requested hearing agenda item 18A prior to Agenda Item 17.
Commission in agreement
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18A Bear Canyon Project/Discussion and Proposal
Charles Lakins, Attorney for the Grijalva family spoke before the Commission. A proposal from the Grijalva family regarding the Bear Lake Project was presented. Lakins stated they were not before the Commission to ask for money, changes of regulations, to do anything new nor to establish anything that is burdensome on any individual or member of the public. All that they wished is to find a way for the Grijalva family to be able to make sure that their cows continue to drink. Background on the Grijalva was given. The situation that has come up is that there is the environmental assessment and rehabilitation project of the Bear Canyon Dam, which involves the draining of the dam, the dredging of the dam and the installation of a fish trap. The fish trap installation is on the 1-½ acre property at the base of the dam. The problem that has arisen concerns the ownership of the piece of property and the use by the Grijalva’s. Lakins stated the Commission had been supplied a copy of the MOU earlier, for review but that is no longer good. That MOU failed in its essential purpose. I did not give permanent resolution to the matter. A current document was given to the Commission and Legal Council for review and input. The family is asking the commission to recognize an easement by implication, which is a legally accepted easement.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Westall asked Lakins if the Grijalva’s were still watering their cattle there. Lakins stated that was correct but the concern was that the fish trap was to commence on Monday. Chairwoman Stevens asked Lakins what the family’s expectation for review from the commission was. Lakins felt next Friday was ample time for response from the AG’s Office. Commission Attorney Andrew Vallejos felt these issues could be worked through and was confident a speedy resolution could be obtained.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 17 Forage lease value considerations Depredation Assistance 19.30.2 NMAC will be open for amendment and discussion.
Presented by Dan Brooks Because there are various methods to estimate forage value and property worth, the Department is recommending utilizing the Range Improvement Task Force (RITF) model that they have in estimating forage consumption of ungulates. The RITF has carried out utilization studies especially in the southern part of the state on elk. They implement a range science approach utilizing various scientific components like crop budgets length of growing season, average amount of forage consumed by elk and recommended establishing and monitoring pellet plots and grazing cages to validate and adjust their model appropriately. Brooks stated it is the belief of the Department that this is a means to help take some of the guesswork out of depredation damage using a best science approach. RITF has offered the Department assistance in calculating forage utilization by wild ungulates. The Department is also recommending amending 19.30.2 to include: 5) Forage leases and agreements shall be limited to a maximum of two (2) consecutive years and shall not exceed $25,000.00 annually or $50,000.00 total. A forage lease or agreement shall only be allowed one time and only in conjunction and agreement of the landowner to accept a permanent depredation intervention solution (i.e. game-proof fence, etc.) the value of all forage damage by big game shall be determined using scientific methodology, range consumption or utilization modeling and measuring.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Westall felt what needed was to change the 25 to 50 thousand to a legal amount of damage, not to exceed $5,000 total on a one time happening. Elk are not a permanent damage.
John Boretsky: Not in agreement with Department’s recommendation. Why lease the forage, not a permanent solution. Why not just build the fence? Better use of depredation money to just get it done. Director Bell Agrees with Boretsky, but the one advantage, if you go with Commissioner Westall’s language, is as these things get on the table a fence many not be completed in a month or a year. So as an intermediate step, a reasonably based forage lease to provide some relief of damage until the fence is constructed makes some degree of sense.
Ed Machin Not in agreement with Departments recommendation.
R.L. Posey Asked Department to consider that building fences would only move the problem to the neighbors.
Henry Ulibarri Not in agreement with Department’s recommendation. Lease the land or get the elk out.
Brian Quinlan Not in agreement with leasing. Build fence first year.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Attorney Vallejos stated Case brought up issues of liability of who owns and maintains the fence. This is something the Commission should review and place in amendment to the depredations regulation. Brooks stated the current language doesn’t actually bind the Department to 2 years, it just limits the intervention up to 2 years. Brooks concerns are the Department does need some space of time to get a fence built. Commissioner Padilla asked in the new recommendation and wording of the lease agreement “shall only be allowed one time and only in conjunction with…” if that was in any way in conflict with the law. Brooks did not see it as such. The statutory language is “to correct and prevent damage by big game”, the rule which the Commission passed actually allows the leasing of forage so the Commission as a body can change that how it suits them. Commissioner Padilla would like to see the wording in the recommendation changed to address the objections from the audience that the permanent depredation intervention solution be the first item of business and if a forage lease is necessary then shall be moved into an action in 2 years. Commissioner Westall felt the amendment needed to be changed to “not to exceed the legal amount of the damage in the gross amount of 5 to 10 thousand dollars”. $50,000 is too much. Brooks stated the Rule was open and the Department can come back with another recommendation and fine-tune it. Chairwoman Stevens asked, for clarification, if Commissioner Westall was saying take the dollar amounts out. Commissioner Westall stated that was correct, but not to exceed 5 or 10 thousand dollars. Chairwoman Stevens agreed with Commissioner Westall. Director Bell clarified the Department’s instruction is to address Commissioner Westall’s concerns and in redrafting the Regulation address the audience and Commissioners. Commissioner Padilla’s concerns including a permanent solution is sought first and only absent resolution from permanent solution would consider a forage lease and incorporate into that the answers the Department is awaiting from the Attorney General’s Office as to resolution to fence ownership and maintenance and bring back a final Regulation at the next meeting. Chairwoman Stevens stated that was correct. Attorney Garcia reminded the Commission and the Department that under the law they are not allowed to compensate any landowner for damages done to property, that would be a violation of the anti-donation clause and is not allowed. What the forage lease agreements contemplate is future purchase of feed for animals that is allowed under the law. Vallejos stated he would be critical of language in the Regulation that was tied to the amount of past damage done to property. Commissioner Westall stated instead of “damages” they could put “use”. Director Bell thanked Vallejos and stated they were perfectly aware of that and the law will be written to accommodate and protect the Agency. Chairwoman Stevens stated a motion would not be made at this time. The Department will bring back to the Commission rewording and present at the June Commission Meeting.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18B Appeal by Cline Trout Farms of denial of importation privileges. Presented by Mike Sloane.
The Department reviewed the disease testing reports for the Spring Creek Hatchery in an effort to determine if spring Creek Hatchery could be an approved supplier. The disease testing conducted at this hatchery is not in compliance with New Mexico’s rule. Additionally, current testing at Broadwater has found suspect whirling disease spores. The finding of suspect spores in fish at a facility from which Cline Trout Farms Monte Vista Unit has received fish raises concerns regarding the possibility of having missed the disease in fish at the Cline facility. One of the criteria the Department uses to review applications is whether or not the species has “the potential to carry” disease (220.127.116.11G). The Department believes that the Broadwater fish may reasonably be expected to possess or carry whirling disease and that this risk to the natural resources of the State of New Mexico is too great. Based on these findings, the Department denied importation privileges for this year. The Department is recommending upholding the decision to deny importation privileges to Cline Trout Farms Monte Vista Unit.
Greg Hackett, Cline Trout Farms, Monte Vista Unit Hackett stated he has been denied again for importation of fish into New Mexico. His business is importation of live salmonoids for recreational fishing. His window of opportunity is basically Memorial Day to Labor day. The department is concerned with the violation of New Mexico Regulation concerning the fish that came on to his facility but did not originate at his facility. The department has been aware of fish brought onto his facility and this being the first year of denial. Mr. Hackett pointed out to the Commission, that prior to the adoption of Regulations in 2000, he had talked to previous Chief of Fisheries, Jack Kelly on the phone and it was to Hackett’s understanding the intent of that rule was to control the brokering of fish. The Regulation talks of rearing of fish. This lot of fish in question that came from Spring Creek was on his facility for 7 months, were tested and tested negative. The Department makes the assumption that the fish in question at the Broadwater facility are somehow connected to the fish on his facility in Colorado. In regards to the basis of denial for potential to carry disease they suggest that since they were at Broadwater they came to the Colorado facility with disease. Whirling disease has killed the industry. That the Department is requiring extra testing is unreasonable. Hackett is requesting the Commission set this decision aside.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Hurt asked if the lots in question have been kept segregated. Hackett stated yes. Commissioner Hurt asked if that was also so with the water supply (filtration). Hackett stated all lots are kept separate-in separate concrete tanks or lined ponds. Commissioner Hurt asked if the water traveled from one pond to another. Hackett stated, right now, no. Chairwoman Stevens asked Sloane for a response to Hackett’s concern the Department came up with an alternative and he feels it is not doable. Sloane stated the Department could shorten its time and Hackett was correct in that the diagnostic lab is booked up and are fairly slow. The shorter time in processing would only open up his window about 5 weeks. Chairwoman Stevens asked Hackett if that would be of any help to him. Hackett replied no. Hackett stated it was unclear to him as to how the Department viewed his facility and asked if he was in the gray area. Sloane replied Hackett was in the gray area. Hackett was particularly interested in the new wording pertaining to a positive facility will be required to provide 2 years of negative inspections prior to being allowed to import into the state. Sloane stated if the decision was made today, the current regulation would apply in which case he could reapply within a 10-month period of having fish. Director Bell stated the regulation was not retroactive, if there is a request before the Commission today it is under current existing law and not anticipate law of May 15. Chairwoman Stevens stated what the Commission has before them today is a Department recommendation to uphold the decision to deny importation privileges to the Cline Trout Farms and Mr. Hackett is requesting they set that decision aside. It is the job of the Commission to protect and maintain the well being of all wildlife and fisheries in this State. If they were to error it would be preferred to error on the side of being over protective than being under protective. The Department has tried to work with Hackett and will continue to do so in the future.
MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moves to accept the Department’s recommendation to uphold Department’s decision to deny importation privileges to Cline Trout Farms, Monte Vista unit; Second by Commissioner Ortega.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Westall asked if his application was being denied from now on or until he gets his facility clean New Mexico’s specifications. Director Bell stated it was not a permanent denial. Current standing is a denial until the facility comes into compliance with New Mexico’s disease testing requirements.
VOTE: voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18C Appeal by Range View Trout Farm of denial of importation privileges.
Presented by Mike Sloane The Department reviewed the reports of the fish disease testing conducted on Rangeview Trout Farm. The reports indicated that the Trout Farm received fish from Star Valley, Crystal Lakes, and McKenzie hatcheries. Of these hatcheries, only Crystal Lakes is a New Mexico approved supplier. The New Mexico importation rule specifically states: “For all lots of fish not originating on facility, supplier must provide a historical account documenting fish were reared only at New Mexico Department of Game and Fish approved aquaculture facilities.” The fish from Star Valley and McKenzie hatcheries do not meet this requirement. Based on this finding, the Department denied importation privileges for this year. The Department is recommending upholding the decision to deny importation privileges to Rangeview Trout Farm.
Michael Manzanares, Manager, Range View Trout Ranch, Ltd. Appealed decision to deny importation into New Mexico. Manzanares stated he submitted to all of the testing requirements set forth by regulations and feels he has complied. Recent testing of April 22, 2002 showed negative. The lot of fish from Star Valley Trout Ranch in Wyoming has been tested twice in the last eight months and have been on his facility and negative for the 12 months. Manzanares stated he understood that Star Valley might not comply to New Mexico’s regulations but felt since the fish have been tested twice on their facility and have been there for over one year that they should qualify as being clean. Manzanares asked for clarification on Regulation 18.104.22.168.F.2 as stating diseased fish being brokered in, and not reared in the facility. The regulation was not imposed on them last year and all of a sudden is being imposed now. Manzanares has been agitated with the way the Department has handled things. Paperwork has been lost and misplaced. He was told in October 2001 that he was cleared to come into the State of New Mexico by Ms. Romero, Secretary and she indicated he would be getting a letter which was never received. Then in April he was notified he was being denied because of the Star Valley issue. Hackett is requesting the Commission reconsider the decision of the Fisheries Department and reverse the decision. Sloane stated the paperwork was lost because the testing was done last October and he presumed it would have been sent to the Department at that time. The Department has no record of it anywhere. There is no record of ever having sent a letter to him approving him and Ms. Romero does not do the final approvals. That is done by one of the Assistant Chiefs. Sloane stated if Manzanares had not received a letter he was surprised he had not called sooner than April. The second testing out of Mr. Manzanares’ facility was 20 fish per lot, which give a much lower confidence than the 95% confidence and the 5% prevalence rate. That testing in his mind does not give a lot of support to the argument.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens apologized for clerical mishaps, but felt also that it did not have anything to do with the final testing and the fact that some of the hatcheries being used are not approved.
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to uphold the Departments recommendation to deny importation privileges to the Range View Trout Farms; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 19. Presentation of Department recommendations for 2002-2003 Upland Game and Waterfowl Rules.
Presented by Tim Mitchusson This is a non-action item at this point and will be brought before the Commission at the June meeting for approval. Mitchusson stated amendments to the 2002-03 Upland Game and Waterfowl regulations are necessary in order to update upland game and waterfowl regulations and conform to USFWS frameworks on migratory species such as teal, Sandhill crane, dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Waterfowl. The Department is recommending the following: (1) Adjust upland game season dates for current calendar year; (2) Adjust season dates and bag limits for the special Middle Rio Grande Valley, Southwestern NM and Estancia Valley sandhill crane hunts; (3) Adjust number of permits for the special sandhill crane hunts; (4) Adjust falconry upland game season dates for the current calendar year; (5) Adjust waterfowl season dates and bag limits for the current calendar year and federal frameworks; (6) Adjust falconry waterfowl season dates for the current calendar year; (7) Adjust Youth-Waterfowl Hunting days season dates for the current calendar year; (8) Opening Bernardo ponds, north of U.S. Highway 60, only during the Light Goose conservation Order. The Department is proposing these amendments be made to the regulation.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens asked whey they were changing
the north zone to 3 and 1. Mitchusson stated it has been that way for quite awhile and there is no change in the bag limit. Commissioner Growney asked if it were not 4 dark geese in the pacific flyway last year. Mitchussen stated no, it has been 3 since it was changed in 1995. It increased from 2 to 3. Commissioner Weaver asked if it was decided to allow falconry on the WMA’s on the off days. Mitchusson stated that was one of the recommendations, it was received at the last moment and it has not yet been considered. But it is a reasonable option. Commissioner Padilla asked why they continued to have closed counties on dark goose (Sandoval, Sierra, Valencia, Socorro and Bernalillo). Mitchusson stated part of the objective is to have at least 10,000 wintering birds in those areas and the most they have been able to count is 7,000 on the winter surveys. This allows limited hunter opportunity so hunters can harvest a few birds and still allow the population to increase. The problem is the majority of birds that used to winter down there now stay in Colorado. Commissioner Padilla stated he would like to see those counties opened. Chairwoman Stevens asked the Department look into what it would take to open these counties, come back before the Commission. Mitchusson stated it would be a very limited season if it was done. Commissioner Growney would like to see the Department look in to, especially Socorro and Valencia counties, on the dark goose. Commissioner Padilla agreed. Chairwoman Stevens stated this agenda item will come back before the Commission in June and at that time public comment will be taken.
NOTE: Commissioner Westall leaves. 5:40 p.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 20 Joint Colorado, New Mexico State Game Commission discussion.
Olive Valdez introduced her fellow Commissioner’s Brad Phelps from Gunnison, Colorado; Jeff Madison and Area Wildlife Manager, Monte Vista, Colorado. Commissioner Valdez informed Commissioner Weaver that Colorado did pass the regulation allowing the take of 4 young falcons every year. Before this action was taken they were only allowed to charge $20.00 for a licensing fee. However, after a lot of discussion it looks like the permit to take will be $200.00 and there is a requirement that they be a Master Falconer. Commissioner Valdez stated she had spoken with Chairwomen Steven and agreed that whenever information came up that it would be shared because of their close proximity. Commissioner Valdez felt there was light ahead reference CWD. They received a press release yesterday and it looks like it is turning around. Commissioner Valdez asked if New Mexico had any CWD problems on the San Antonio Mountain. Director Bell stated they had not, and still professes to be CWD free in both wild and captive herds. Commissioner Valdez stated those animals that Colorado sent New Mexico in September 3 had not come down with CWD. Director Bell stated that the elk went to a facility in the central part of the state. The entire herd was destroyed, testing was done and they were all CWD negative. The Commissioner passed out handouts on how Colorado responds to the public on CWD. Chairwoman Stevens informed the audience that there are many issues along the New Mexico/Colorado borders and felt it would be a good opportunity to get together with Colorado and discuss like issues. Although CWD is not in New Mexico it is ever present and Colorado is depended upon for information. Other issues are Whirling Disease, migratory issues and possibly harvest numbers that are in the counties along the two borders as well as wolf reintroduction even though that is out of New Mexico’s control. Jeff Madison spoke on CWD. There was a positive elk facility in the middle of the San Luis Valley last September. Trace backs indicate it was from a facility from Greeley that had also tested positive a couple of year’s prior. Colorado quickly found the funds and double fenced that facility. The facility was depopulated of about 400 elk in December and came up with 2 more positive animals. Animals have been sampled in the vicinity of the elk facility within ½ to 1-mile radius using hunter and road kills. They are currently up to 140 samples and still have not gotten a positive. Intensive sampling will begin when alfalfa starts to green up in the middle of June and will continue that effort through the hunting season this year. There was a positive deer in NW Colorado. Commissioner Stevens asked if they have addressed the transporting of harvested animals from Colorado into another state. Phelps commended New Mexico on its incentive program but it would not be needed in Colorado. Phelps felt they would be overwhelmed with heads. The question on CWD that needs answering is the old timers say it has always been there but there used to be real winters and the sick ones never made it. Colorado will be actively testing this fall in large numbers. Regulation was enacted that limits moving spinal/brain tissue out of area in NE Colorado. All precautions are being taken at this point to not spread it to the rest of the state. They are talking about doing a video to educate public on how to take quarters off the ball joint and leave the spine in the field. Chairwoman Stevens asked how this will be enforced. Phelps state it would be tough, it will be easy in some of the areas (the western slope) because basically the only NE Colorado hunting done there is for trophy whitetails along the South Platte River. Chairwoman Stevens asked if Colorado had adopted the WAFWA standard for CWD. Phelps stated as of current he is not sure if they have talked about it. Issues on Whirling Disease, and as reactive as they are, they are unable to fulfill their hatchery needs and that they are buying fish from private hatcheries to stock public waters. The Fish Quality Board is pretty much their leader and hopefully they will communicate with Mr. Sloane. On New Mexico’s deer limited licenses, Colorado was reactive in that it was done in 1999 because they had to. It has worked in probably 60% of the areas and has really helped. In the Gunnison Basin a 90% reduction was taken in buck hunters and that was demanded by the public, not the advice of their wildlife managers. The buck numbers have improved, but the deer numbers have not responded as well as hoped for. He is glad to see that mule deer is a major concern in New Mexico. Regarding elk licenses, leftover licenses were never sold because too many were being issued. Colorado did pass on a 7 to 1 vote to sell the additional tags this year and they did take into account by selling those leftover tags that all those original numbers were set with like a 26% success rate. Chairwoman Stevens extended a personal invitation to Colorado to attend the WAFWA Conference in July that will be held in Albuquerque, NM and hopes they, along with other Commissioners and Department personnel can attend. Commissioner Padilla asked if there was a situation, through a license fee increase, that not many non-resident licenses were sold as of a result of a second tag issuance. Commissioner Valdez stated it’s a fact that their hunting numbers were down and what they did was offer a second license for a cow tag and reduced it to $250.00 for non-resident. Resident fees have not bee raised. Commissioner Valdez asked how the ultra violet was working with Whirling Disease. She had discussed the expense of using this technique and asked if New Mexico felt the investment of funds was paying off. Director Bell stated he certainly hoped so. The Seven Springs Hatchery has just been opened and has that filtration system on it and Pecos is not yet on line with the filtration. Sloane stated the filters seem to work well, although they have not really been tested during the runoff season. With the UV Systems they are going through typical break-in but seem to be pretty reliable. Director Bell stated, as that develops, if it would be of any assistance to Colorado, New Mexico would send Mike Sloane up to give a presentation. Director Bell also offered any results from New Mexico’s San Antonio Elk Study that was geared to determine migration patterns of elk between, and within, Colorado and New Mexico. The study is concluding and is being written up. As soon as the final report is obtained it will be shared with Colorado. Commissioner Valdez thanked the Department for their offer. Commissioner Valdez stated they believed in the good neighbor policy and what New Mexico does affects Colorado and vise versa. It they can make it easier to handle problems they encounter they wish to do that and hope New Mexico feels free to call upon them at any time.
Doug Auckland Would like to see a reciprocal agreement between New Mexico and Colorado to have non-resident fees reduced.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 21 Commission/Department Discussion
Narciso Baca Update: Presented by Larry Bell Updated the Commission on the Narciso Baca depredation issue. The Department offered a permanent resolution of a fence to Mr. Baca. After offering the fence as a resolution, Mr. Baca replied in a lengthily response, but in essence said he would accept the fence as long as it was not built on his property and as long as the Department continued to maintain it. All along, Mr. Baca has maintained that his solution to the problem is no elk on his property. The Department offered him a solution that would provide him no elk on his property, he then wrote back requesting the Department entertain the idea of a forage lease. Director Bell stated it seems where we are with Mr. Baca is the need for a different action and that action is to go to prosecution saying the Department feels he has rejected these intervention methods without cause in compliance with the regulation. Director Bell stated he has been pursuing this with Attorney Garcia and the Department will continue to work with him on something similar to a WRIT being submitted to the court. If this can be done, asking for a good cause determination, the Department can then go back to Mr. Baca with the power of the court in a non-prosecutorial manner stating that his intervention has been denied for something less than good cause. As a result, obtaining a cease and desist order to stop the killing of the animals and further require that he would cease killing all elk until he is willing to accept a resolution that would be proven to work, he would no longer be considered to have a depredation, then would be subject to prosecution if he continued to kill. Director Bell felt this avenue should be pursued first and make sure the Department has exhausted that prior to going to prosecution route.
Dave Sanchez Update At the Socorro meeting, the Commission directed the Department to pursue the two-year lease, the ultimate resolution being a fence. At that point in time, the Department was also directed that Mr. Sanchez would build the fence solely upon conditions of the maintenance. That came to the point of being a deal breaker in negotiations and the Department, at his encouragement, went ahead and offered Mr. Baca a contract to maintain the fence for the five years at the sum of $1,500 per year. Mr. Sanchez has concerns on vandalism and theft and felt it was prudent. Director Bell stated he went outside the Commission’s purview on this matter and asked the Commission if they wished to not ratify that decision then he will be happy to resume the negotiations with Mr. Sanchez more directly related to the orders of the Commission. Director Bell apologized to the Commission but it seemed expeditious to finalize the agreement.
Santa Rosa Hatchery land and water rights purchase:
Presented by Scott Brown The change of use and point of diversion application that went before the State Engineers Office on the Santa Rosa water rights purchase was approved this morning. A check was delivered today to Mr. Pino so those water rights are now in the Commission and Department’s hands for use for the Santa Rosa hatchery and also the warm water hatchery. The Department is proceeding on the purchase of 30 acres of land to the west of Santa Rosa Hatchery for eventual use for the warm water hatchery. Hopefully, the Department should have a purchase agreement within the next week for signing. The Lisboa mine tailings work is proceeding. The contractor has asked for 2 change order requests. Changing the price per unit of moving the mine tailings off because the amount of mine tailings was not what was listed in the RFP. The Department knew they were a little high, but also went with a statement that those were estimates and were subject to change and nothing would change if those went up or down. The contractor requested a change order twice, it was denied once. Contractor’s attorney responded the second time and a letter was received yesterday indicating intent to sue. The Department will proceed to work on that situation. In addition, on all Commission owned properties, the same fire restrictions have been instituted as the State Forestry.
Director Bell informed the public that biological information, including harvest surveys, population surveys, elk management and deer management information and copies of the elk booklet on CD Rom are available. Over time the public has requested that they receive this material well in advance of asking them for comments. This information is being supplied in advance for tomorrows meeting. Director Bell invited all to attend the Commission Workshop and tour of the Sargent Wildlife Area and Parkview Fish Hatchery.
Future meetings dates and locations:
July no formal commission meeting because of WAFWS.
August 23, 2002 to be held in Farmington.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 22 General Public Comments: (Comments limited to 3 minutes.)
R.L. Posey One day oryx hunts would cause a reduction of non-resident hunters. Would like to see Department keep record on how many out of state hunters apply for the hunt.
Curtis, Sandia Crest Bow Hunters Association Concerned bow hunters are loosing their rights; September bow hunt for Valle Vidal is missing; Statewide bear hunt was gone for September 1; change in depredation ($3.00 paid per license); submitted petition to establish a bear hunt for the bow hunters of New Mexico without dogs or guns during the bow season for elk. They realize they will have to go to the meetings and speak but wanted to voice concerns today and possibly gain the Department’s support as the changes happen in order to get some of the hunting back.
Jose Archuleta Would like more elk permits for the small landowners.
Commissioner Padilla felt there were major problems with the small landowners in this area and would like to work with the Department between now and when regulations are set to come up with solutions for what some of the small landowners are experiencing.
Meeting adjourned at 6:35 p.m.
Meeting resumed at 8:30 a.m. at the Lodge at Chama
AGENDA ITEM NO. 23 Closed Executive Session
Chairwoman Stevens entertained a motion to enter into Closed Executive Session pursuant to NMSA 10-15-1 (H2, H-7 and H-8) of the Open Meeting Act in order to discuss limited purposes of personnel matters, litigation and land acquisition.
MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moves to enter into Closed Executive Session; Second by commissioner Weaver.
Director Bell call roll.
ROLL CALL VOTE:
Commissioner Growney- Yes
Commissioner Hurt Yes
Commissioner Ortega Yes
Commissioner Padilla Yes
Commissioner Weaver Yes
Commissioner Westall Absent
All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
Chairwoman Stevens calls the Open Meeting back to order and explains that the matters discussed in the Closed Executive Session were limited to the items on the agenda and no action was taken in the Closed Executive Session.
MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to come out of executive session; Seconded by Commissioner Growney.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moves to appeal the UU Bar case; Second by Commissioner Hurt.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present vote in the affirmative. Motion carries.
Chairwoman Stevens recognized Senator Lyons as attending the meeting.
A special thanks was given to The Lodge at Chama employees and for their hospitality.
Chairwoman Stevens requested introduction of the audience.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 24 Bear Biology Information Bill Dunn
The eight-year research project on New Mexico’s black bears was one of the most exhaustive studies ever completed on this species. Information gained on demographics and habitat needs that will help guide management includes the following: New Mexico’s bears are herbiforous; availability of acorns is a major determinant of reproduction and recruitment. Bears are not strongly territorial, but do range over wide areas. Reproductive potential is modest. Females first reproduce at 5.7 years of age, have an average of 1.4 cubs and produce litters every other year. If recruited into the adult population, individuals have >75% chance of surviving. About 5000-6000 bears range over 14.6 million acres of habitat. Habitat also shared by people is prevalent in the Sangre de Cristo and Sacramento Mountains, two areas that experience frequent human/bear encounters. Making food unavailable, particularly by securing garbage, has proved to be the most effective way to reduce these encounters.
COMMISSION COMMENT: Commissioner Padilla voiced concern with fall hunts coming up. Would like to have hunters alerted that bear are going to be in bad shape and to attempt to educate and discourage them through publications. He would like something to alert the hunters to the fact that the bear are going to be in poor shape. Possibly in the Wildlife Publication and the newspapers. Dunn stated he agreed and the Department is preparing news releases and will work to inform the public throughout the summer. Commissioner Padilla stated he would like to see a front-page picture of a bear with a headline and describe the situation. Commissioner Ortega asked if the Department experienced bear problems such as this in the past. Dunn stated last year was a record setting year. Commissioner Ortega felt if this educational factor could be turned around to the point where people would be more tolerant and will realize there was a lot to learn and then not have to kill bears every time you turn around, unless there is some animal that was a really big nuisance. This needs to be projected and instilled in the minds of the public. Commissioner Growney stated it looked as if there was a population in the 5,000 range and asked Dunn how that compared historically to the bear population over the last century. Dunn stated basically until now, estimates were based on anecdotal estimations.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 25 Cougar Biology Information Rich Beausoleil
In 2001, many changes were made to the cougar regulations including zone boundary changes, zone closure revisions, quota increases, a bag limit increase in bighorn sheep and deer areas, an increase in the depredation permit in Unit 30, and year-round no quota hunting on private lands. Biological information on how these new recommendations were developed was presented, including a demonstration of a recently developed cougar harvest model. Also presented were harvest figures since the quota system was adopted in 1999, the planning involved in writing a new management plan, and population estimation methods currently being explored. Other items reviewed were: 2002-03 regulation changes. Revised quotas. Revised zone boundaries. Revised zone closure rule. Year round, no quota hunting in all big horn sheep ranges. Cougar harvest stats were presented. Percent male cougars in harvest (past 10 year average). Zone boundary revisions. Summary of quota increases. Zone closure revisions. Previous rule vs. current. Cougar licenses sold 1981-2000 (225 percent increase). Why the quota system works. Hunting pressure distributed throughout the state, etc. Increasing license sales do not conflict with management schemes, quotas can be adjusted. Cougar DNA population study: biopsy tip (tissue samples) rubbing station (hair samples); cougar DNA analysis, DNA study is based on a mark recapture study design. Tissue hair samples collected in the summer and sent to lab for DNA identification. Mountain Lion Management Plan. Stake holders involved in revision of cougar long-range management plan along with Federal agencies, commission, public, universities, ranchers, cougar advisory group, etc.
COMMISSION COMMENTS: Commissioner Weaver stated this was an excellent example of how the Department works and is happy to see it here. It provides an excellent base from which to build an understanding on predator prey relationships. Beausoleil thanked Commissioner Weaver and went on to say the Department has been extracting teeth for the last 2 seasons on lion kills to obtain age data. Once this information is incorporated into the model it will take it into a whole new dimension. Commissioner Padilla stated he was at the Ladder and Armendaris Ranch in January and they were telling him about the radio collaring they were doing there, lion relationship with bighorn sheep and asked Beausoleil if he was in contact with them. Beausoleil stated that was more in line with the bighorn sheep program, although they do send the Department updates. Director Bell stated that study is being done with the Department/through the Department. They cannot do the study without the Department and constant communication is being maintained. The study has just been revised and is designed to determine lion and sheep interaction and if there is a way to control lions without taking all of them within a sheep range and trying to do what we can to determine the segment of the lion population that is doing the damage to the sheep.
Attorney Garcia updated the Commission on the lawsuit involving the cougar regulations. Currently a record has been submitted to the District Court for review under the CERT process and their office (AG) is working closely with the Department. Over the next couple of months he expects to get a decision out of the District Court that may potentially impact cougar management. He does not expect the Court to be placing any kind of restrictions on the Commission’s discretion. Garcia stated he just wanted to let the Commission know that is where they are in the process right now and are just waiting for Animal Protection, Inc. to give them their statement of review at which time they will respond. This should occur within the next couple of weeks.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 26 Elk Biology Information Terry Enk
The presentation included a general discussion of elk ecology and an explanation of the Department’s current habitat-based management strategy for elk. The Department believes that elk herds throughout the State should be managed based upon populations rather than the Game Management Unit. Population management must be based upon forage quantity and quality, which ultimately determines the number of elk that can be supported in any given area. This management strategy requires consultation and coordination with land management agencies that are responsible for elk habitat, including the U.S. Forest Service and BLM. Other items reviewed are as follow: Basic elk ecology, habitat based elk management and 2002 elk booklet.
General ecology: Food habits and adaptation to local forage conditions. Habitat use; seasonal movements; reproduction and rut. Reproductive success: Calf/cow ratios. Mortality: Calves fifty percent mortality in first month. Adults: Five percent annual non-hunting mortality; predation; injury and old ages. Habit based management: Population unit vs. game management unit and ecological carrying capacity.
COMMISSION COMMENTS: Chairwoman Stevens commended Enk on an excellent presentation. Commissioner Ortega suggested a presentation such as this should be shown at the Western Association Conference. This would show other states that New Mexico is way ahead of the game. Director Bell hoped that the elk booklet provides management at a glance. As shown in Enk’s presentation you could see quickly what the population trend was, how hunters are affecting the trend and if it is an area that needs to be managed to address depredation concerns. Because of the concern by the land use agency you could quickly determine if that is an area that perhaps could stand some growth. As you look at the new Elk Management Plan. if there is no habitat concerns the elk are doing fine. He hoped that provides a mechanism for the members of the public and noted copies are available to the public.
Director Bell stated the ranch where the meeting is being held was a major contributor into the reintroduction of elk into New Mexico back in the 1950’s. It is an example of the great partnerships that can be built.
Ed Machin stated the New Mexico Wildlife Federation had a raffle going on and they indicated they would have the drawing on May 16, 2002. Machin stated he was not about to miss the State Game Commission meeting and requested permission to hold the raffle during the meeting. Chairwoman Stevens was asked to draw 3 names for the raffle. Gifts were: Browning Mirage Compound Bow; $500 gift certificate at Ron Pederson’s and $500.00 gift certificate at Charlie’s Sporting Goods. 1.) Joe Kinsey of Albuquerque; 2.) Harold Olsen of Rio Rancho; and 3.) John Harvell of Corrales were winners.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 27 Oryx Biology Information Darrell Weybright
A presentation on the general history, biology, and management of the oryx was given. This included the on-range and off-range management programs and an overview of the cooperatively developed management plan for oryx. Also, the harvest strategies addressing the off-range oryx problems were discussed. Population survey efforts have been increased over the last several years and through an intensive study by the cooperative Fisheries and Wildlife Research Unit at New Mexico State University survey techniques, oryx migration, and survival are being investigated.
COMMISSION COMMENTS: Commissioner Ortega asked if the Department was on the same formula as elk on the 22%, reference resident/non resident. Director Bell stated they were not. The Department is under a permanent injunction from the court wherein the quota cannot be applied to bighorn sheep, oryx or ibex. At the time the State changed the quota law to apply quota to all the other species the Department asked for a lifting of that injunction by the United States Supreme Court and they said our efforts failed based on the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Everyone competes for the draw equally. Weybright informed a new management plan was in place. It is a very informative document and shows the mission statement of agencies involved. It also shows what the goals are, how information is obtained and applied. Chairwoman Stevens asked if having to go to the one day hunts last year hurt the Department. How much of an impact did that have. Steve Henry stated they had a real high success rate. It caused a great amount of labor on behalf of the Department and Missile Range and 150-200 less oryx were taken because about 200 people, from the beginning, opted not to come. Henry went on to say they also had a great number of depredation hunts south of Highway 70 on the Range, probably more than was anticipated earlier in that year. Regarding the 500 off the range year round permits, indications of a 75%-90% success rate is what is believed. Chairwoman Stevens showed her appreciation to the Department for stepping in under those circumstances and taking the lead in assisting. Department personnel went above and beyond the call of duty and that was very much appreciated. Commissioner Padilla asked if Weybright had said 1,200 animas was the goal on range. Weybright said that was so. Commissioner Padilla stated he was under the impression that the original contract with the army was 700 when they first placed them there. Director Bell said it was a great deal lower. The original target was a population of 750, but about 3 years ago the contract was renegotiated under a Cooperative Management Agreement and the Military agreed to raise that up to 1,200. Commissioner Padilla asked when they started with the first stocking he had mentioned oryx, 2 species of ibex and greater kudu. What about Barbary? Weybright stated that had slipped his mind, but also is an African animal.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 28 Bighorn Biology Information Elise Goldstein
Information on the general history, biology, and management of the bighorn was presented. This included the Desert and Rocky Mountain bighorn management programs and an overview of the status of the population. Current planned actions included renewing the Strategic and Operational plans, continuing predator control on specific ranges, transplants for both Desert and Rocky Mountain populations, continued improvements at the Red Rock Propagating Facility, initiating habitat improvement projects, and proposing to hunt bighorn ewes in the Pecos and Wheeler Peak herds to maintain high quality habitat and herd health. Also reviewed: Natural history, and steep habitat for protection. Rocky Mountain and Desert bighorn with Mexicana sub species. Desert population charts shown. San Cristobal herds are the only ones increasing at this time. Rocky Mountain populations for Turkey Creek; San Francisco River, Manzanos, Wheeler Peak, Pecos and Latirs was shown. Hazards of inbreeding. Hunting: in combination with transplants would like to do a ewe hunt. Bighorn exchange with Arizona. Prescribed burns bring back habitat making it safer for sheep and lions unable to hide as easily. Mountain lion removal charts shown. Number reviewed by contractors and sport hunters. Long-range plan.
COMMISSION COMMENTS: Chairwoman Stevens felt the information presented is promising and especially the possible transplant with Arizona. Commissioner Padilla also encouraged transplant. Of concern to him was killing ewes. He appreciated what was said about maintaining the herd below the carrying capacity but encouraged looking at trapping and trading with other states to achieve that goal instead of shooting the ewes. The reason being, all the Western States want more bighorn sheep and if you recall back to the elk transplant to Kentucky, he is the one that asked the Department for the trade of Bass. Encouraged the Department look at trading sheep for fish with other states.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 29 Wildlife of New Mexico Video Tim Baca
A 10-minute video by Tim Baca displayed the wildlife and landscape of New Mexico and the research and management implications that we as an agency get involved. Director Bell stated this serves as a reminder of why we are here and why we do what we do.
COMMISSION COMMENTS: Chairwoman Stevens commended this as an excellent video and made her proud of what we do in the State of New Mexico.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 30 Field Trip Sargent Wildlife Area
Larry Bell - The Department of Game and Fish staff has worked hard in preparing a great tour today. This is a unique opportunity in getting the Seargent Wildlife Area open for the first time in a long time to allow some public vehicular access. This will not be done every time, but is well worth it so that we can bring into the field the information that the commission heard at the presentation relative to a variety of big game biology. Director Bell stated the staff will take those attending through a variety of ways Game and Fish manages its wildlife and the wildlife area itself. A member of State Forestry is was also present to talk about habitat conditions and benefit of forest activities on this wildlife area. Director Bell commended his staff.
Tim Frybarger Spoke on the Sargent Wildlife Area, on how it came about, how big it is and why is it so valuable. There are 3 wildlife areas, the Humphrey’s Wildlife Area, between Chama and Dulce, it is about 11 thousand acres; The Rio Chama Wildlife Area, between Tierra Amarilla and El Vado Lake, it is about 13 thousand acres; and The Sergent Wildlife Area which is 20 thousand acres. The Sargent Wildlife Area was purchased in 1975 for about 3.8 million with help from the Nature Conservancy and Federal Aid. Ed Sargent, previous owner, was Lt. Governor in the late 1920’s. He donated 10 acres in 1927 for one of the first fish hatcheries in New Mexico. The remains of that hatchery are located on the Sargent. It lasted 4 years and was called the Little Chama Hatchery. The Department runs the Wildlife Area to help the elk, improve habitat and hope to keep more of the elk here to lower the depredation outside of the area. Controlled burns were started in 1985 and the public came in and cut a lot of oak. This was allowed for about 5 years. The Sargent is a low disturbance area and the only vehicle access is administratively with Game and Fish and the previous owners who have an easement to their property. There is very limited elk hunting and there will be a little bit of bear hunting this year, which will be the first year. Turkey hunting is allowed, as is upland game.
Brian Gleadle Gleadle gave an overview of the law enforcement efforts of the Game and Fish. In the State of New Mexico we currently have 114 commissioned officers, including 4 new recruits. Of those 114 commissioned officers, 58 are district level, including the district supervisors and district officers. Others include the area specialists, Santa Fe staff, and other officers that have worked up through the field and maintained their commission. Last year the officers, primarily at the district level, completed about 28 thousand hours of law enforcement effort in the State. During that time they also made over 41 thousand total contacts (fishermen, hunters) and issued 1,307 citations. Locally, in the Chama supervisory district, which includes Chama, Cuba, Jemez, Espanola and Santa Fe. The officers spent 1,552 hours making 3,201 contacts and issuing 72 citations, which were primarily for fishing violations, but also involved big game citations. Samples of what the officers use to patrol during their normal day on the Wildlife Areas were displayed for public viewing. Those included: snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, horses. The Wildlife Management Areas are regulated by State Game Commission Regulations. In the Regulation it specifically states that all Wildlife Management Areas are deemed closed to hunting, fishing and trespassing unless specifically open through a Regulation. Therefore, through the Big Game Regulations there are currently 6 hunts on the Sargent Wildlife Area, 3 of which is mature bull. The other 3 include anterless. One of those this year, for the first time, is going to be designated as a youth hunt. This will include 10 permits. This year, for the first time, there will be a bear entry hunt which is going to be 10 permits and will hopefully be utilized to address some of the bear problems in the Chama area. Turkey hunting is allowed in the area and general public is invited to come up any time and enjoy the wildlife, except when it is closed for elk calving seasons. There is a locked gate across the main road so most of the people who come up to participate in enjoyment of the wildlife area are either hikers, mountain bikers or on horseback. When there are hunts in the Wildlife Area, they are limited in numbers. The Department strives to maintain the quality of the hunts. Therefore, when the areas are patrolled, the officers want to make sure they do not go in and ruin someone’s hunt. Most of the time the officers will patrol on horseback. Electronic elk and deer decoys were displayed and the public was invited to run the controls.
COMMISSION COMMENT: Chairwoman Stevens introduced the Commissioner’s to the attending public. Chairwoman Stevens thanked the public for attending and a special thanks was given to the Department for all the effort and time spent on today preparation. Chairwoman Stevens gave recognition to Gail Cramer, former Commissioner.
Bill Dunn Acorns from gambel oak is the most important food source for bears in northern New Mexico. A late spring storm in May 2001 froze most buds of mast producing crops resulting in few acorns available for bears during the subsequent summer and fall. As an example, a 30-minute search of a large oak patch in the Sargent Wildlife Area resulted in only 1 acorn husk being found. Another challenge for bears in obtaining adequate food is the fact that oak is not continuous but occurs in disjunct patches. Calories have to be expended to reach each patch and bears will be at a caloric deficit if the patch does not contain enough food. In the midst of these oak patches found on mountain slopes lies Chama, perhaps the largest food patch. The dumpsters found there may be the most available food source for bears. The town’s location in the midst of bear habitat increases the potential for encounters between people and bears. Reducing the availability of food from dumpsters will be critical to reducing these encounters.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Jan Hays asked if the oak is going to reproduce because there hasn’t been a frost yet or if the drought would stop the acorns from forming. Craig Daugherty, State Forestry, Chama District stated there was a late frost June 22 of last year. This last winter there was no moisture. This area received less than 50% normal moisture, so we are going into this year on a deficit and then last year without the acorn crop these oaks are very stressed. Predictions are saying that there is not going to be significant moisture until August of this year. There is a good chance that the acorn crop is not going to develop again this year.
Craig Daugherty, Timber Management Officer, State Forestry, Chama DistrictManagement options on the Wildlife Areas were reviewed. Historically this area was almost a pure ponderosa pine stand. Between the 40’s and 50’s the area was heavily logged and that significantly changed the area. The objectives of State Forestry are to work with private landowners, look at what their objectives are and then base management schemes upon those objectives. Daugherty stated the Department’s main objective in management would be to increase forage for wildlife and multiple management schemes were reviewed for forest health.
Also reviewed was water management, selective harvesting, thinning, prescribed fire, aspen region cuts, etc.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Ed Machin Asked what a reasonable number of trees per acre was in order to have a healthy forest. Daugherty stated that basically, in the 100 to 500 range, density can be brought down to about 500 and managed with fire. Currently they are in the 1000 to 3000, most of the time on the upper end of that. So stems need to be brought way down to get to that point.
Mark Watson Conservation Services Division Act (1994)- Duties are management, enhancement, research and conservation of public wildlife habitat; lease, purchase, enhancement and management of state wildlife habitat; assisting landowners in improving wildlife habitats; development of educational programs related to conservation of wildlife; communication and consultation with federal and state agencies, local governments and communities, private organizations and affected interests responsible for habitat, wilderness, recreation, water quality and environmental protection to ensure comprehensive conservation services for hunters, anglers and non-consumptive wildlife users.
Technical Guidance Section of Conservation Services Division has five positions: 1) Assistant Division Chief, who is working a lot on elk carrying capacity issues; 2) the GIS/BISON-M database specialist, who is coordinating our new GIS program; 3) the Mining Habitat Specialist who is dealing primarily with the multi-million dollar Terrero Mine Remediation Project; 4) the Aquatic Habitat Specialist, who is working on statewide water issues; and 5) the Terrestrial Habitat Specialist. One of my primary duties currently is working with the State Highway Department to mitigate for deer/vehicle accidents. CSD also has the Sikes Act Coordinator and Department Lands Habitat Specialist, who deal exclusively with Department lands issues. The Technical Guidance Section is responding to 300-400 requests for review per year from federal, state, county and municipal agencies and private consultants. Projects as diverse as aquatic and mining issues, oil and gas development, grazing, timber management, fuels reduction projects, prescribed burns, military lands issues, urban development, pipelines, fiber optic lines and communication towers are reviewed. Response and requests for information are provided such as: 1) the occurrence of important big game calving and fawning grounds, critical winter range, migratory corridors; 2) potential impacts to state or federal Threatened, Endangered or Sensitive species; 3) proposing alternative mitigation strategies to minimize impacts such as timing of construction to avoid disrupting breeding, raptor-safe power line construction; 4) our New Mexican Species of Concern list for all New Mexico counties, and we maintain the BISON-M database that presents current information on the biology, ecology, natural history, habitat associations and status of all New Mexico vertebrate species. Also review project proposals for Department lands made by other entities, such as oil and gas development, pipelines, easements and right-of-ways, and also habitat management projects proposed by the Department for Commission-owned properties. The Game Commission currently owns 64 properties and leases 31 throughout the state, totaling over. 200,000 acres. 80% of Commission-owned properties were bought with Federal Aid money; meaning there are restrictions regarding how these lands can be used and where the monies go that are generated off of them. These Commission-owned properties include approx. (16) Wildlife Management Areas, (6) Waterfowl Management Areas, (10+) Prairie Chicken Management Areas; (6) Fish Hatcheries, and many areas owned or leased for fishing opportunities. The Commission also owns or leases dams at places such as Lake Roberts, Fenton Lake, Quemado Lake, Clayton Lake, Ute Lake, Snow Lake, Hopewell Lake, and Jackson Lake. When the Department proposes habitat improvement projects on Commission-owned lands, we are subject to the same statutory requirements required of all of the other federal, state, municipal and private project proponents that we review projects for, such as 1) archaeological clearance through the State Historic Preservation office; 2) National Environmental Policy Act compliance, which includes public scoping and usually the development of an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, with a 30 or 60 day public review and comment process; 3) Section 7 consultation with USFWS for Federal Endangered Species compliance; and 4) Federal Aid compliance if the property is bought or maintained with Federal Aid money. Road and fence maintenance are standard responsibilities for Commission-owned properties, and are generally categorically excluded from NEPA review by USFWS and DOI, but not excluded from archaeological clearance by SHPO! CSD must contract out archaeological surveys, legal surveys, cleanup activities for recreational areas, all remediation activities associated with the Terrero project, dam repair projects, some fencing projects, etc. Contracts take several months to initiate after DFA review, and budgeting must be done a year ahead of time. We have a four-man construction crew to deal with maintenance issues on all Commission-owned lands. Edward Sargent Wildlife Management Area is over 20,000 acres, purchased in 1975 to "provide excellent elk habitat and increased hunting opportunity". The Department is currently involved in implementing a riparian restoration project on the Chamita River on the Sargent, where we will be fencing 0.5 to 1.0 mile of the riparian to mitigate elk damage on woody species. We want to reestablish woody vegetation along the banks to stop lateral migration of the channel, allow the water table to rise and reestablish wetlands.
COMMISSION COMMENT: Commissioner Weaver would like for someone to explain what the real reason for the SHIPO re-clearance and maintenance of fences when it does not involve actual movement of soils or anything other than the width of a barbed wire fence. Why is that requirement still intact? Mark Watson stated he did not know too much about SHIPO, but his understanding was that if you were basically going in on an existing fence line, pulling up a post and putting in a t-post in the same hole, you would probably not be required to do a SHIPO clearance. But if you are coming in a putting in a new fence line in, doing new disturbance, you would probably would. That is a state law and it is how they choose to interpret it. Director Bell stated the Department has the same concern and are requesting of the federal government and through the state office that the Department gets some category exclusion for that maintenance type activity. The Department is working in that direction but at this time do not know the outcome.
Yvette Paroz Nabor Lake was one of the first Rio Grande cutthroat trout restoration projects. The lake and stream was treated with Rotenone in the early 1970's and stocked with Rio Grande cutthroat trout from Indian creek in Colorado. Rio Grande cutthroat trout restorations usually involve using a piscicide to remove all the other trout due to the fact that brown trout and brook trout out compete the Rio Grande cutthroat and rainbow trout can interbreed with them. There are two restorations planned for this year, Costilla #1 creek (~18 miles and 4 lakes) and Rio Las Animas creek (>25 stream miles). The Department uses electro shockers to sample fish populations and use either natural or man-made fish migration barriers to isolate populations from other trout species. We hope to bring Rio Grande cutthroat trout populations down into larger watersheds and connect small tributaries, for example connect Nabor Creek with the Chamita. Larry Bell explained the status of the USFWS - "Candidate Status Review". Stating that he believed that the fish would not get listed due to ongoing projects and the newly renovated Seven Springs Fish Hatchery. Also, Yvette showed the audience a backpack electro fisher and examples of Rio Grande cutthroat trout that were caught in Nabor Creek.
Director Bell stated the Rio Grande cutthroat is a considered species for federal listing. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has about completed their review and it looks like the review will be favorable for the Department and will not consider it as a candidate species. This is based on the efforts of the Department of Game and Fish, the restoration efforts, the number of streams that currently have cutthroat as well as the dedication of the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery to the Rio Grand Cutthroat effort. That effort is critical so that it can be maintained as a state species and not a federally listed species.
The Commission and public viewed a bear bed that was discovered by Chris Chadwick, Tim Frybarger and Craig Daugherty earlier in the day.
Greg Friday, Assistant Manager, Parkview Fish Hatchery A tour of the hatchery was given to the Commission and public. The hatchery was built in the 30’s and was refurbished in 1987. In the past the hatchery was a gravity flow situation and pumps or electricity were not depended upon. Now there is a standby generator and pumps are run 24 hours a day. The hatchery was diagnosed with whirling disease a year ago and they have been attempting to renovate the spring and aeration boxes to get it back in shape and resolve the problem. Disinfection’s processes have begun, fish have been tested and thus far they have come back negative for the disease including the kokanee salmon. Within 3 weeks the entire hatchery should be back on line again. About 85,000 pounds of fish are produced from this hatchery per year and 5 to 6 million rainbow trout eggs are spawned yearly.
Chairwoman Stevens expressed the Commission’s appreciation to the Department for all their hard work in preparing and presenting the biological reports and tour.