New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Karl Moffatt: (505) 476-8007


Conservationists honored at Governor’s Special Hunt Auction and Awards Banquet

ALBUQUERQUE – Some of New Mexico’s most accomplished and dedicated wildlife conservationists received special honors recently at the annual Governor’s Special Hunt Auction and Awards Banquet.

Sanford Schemnitz, a longtime professor at New Mexico State University, was presented the 2017 Governor’s Conservationist Lifetime Achievement Award. Schemnitz has dedicated his life to wildlife conservation, teaching and inspiring countless students toward conservation careers. His research and studies also contributed significantly to reintroductions of desert bighorn sheep and Gould’s turkeys to their historic ranges in New Mexico.

Stewart Liley, who in 10 years with the Department of Game and Fish rose from Elk Program manager to chief of the Wildlife Management Division, received the 2017 Director’s Wildlife Conservation Professional of the Year Award. Liley’s innovative approaches to wildlife management have led to more accurate estimates of the state elk population, improved methods to incorporate harvest data into game management plans, and a better understanding of elk calf mortality rates.

The New Mexico Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation was presented the 2017 Commissioners’ Wildlife Conservation Partnership Award, which recognizes the exemplary work by a Department of Game and Fish partner toward wildlife conservation in New Mexico. By providing the venue for the annual Bighorn Sheep Enhancement permit auction, the foundation has helped raise almost $5 million since 1990 for the department’s bighorn sheep programs. The foundation’s contributions were especially significant in the department’s successful efforts to restore desert bighorn sheep populations, removing the species from state threatened and endangered lists, and allowing more sports harvests every year.

The awardees received handmade bronze wildlife statues created by Santa Fe artists Colin and Kristine Poole.