UPDATED: October 9, 2002



New Mexico Highlands University

Student Center Ballroom

9th Street and Baca Avenue

Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701

September 27, 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

Chairwoman Stevens calls the meeting to order and requests 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.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. Introduction of Guests

Chairwoman Stevens requested the introduction of members of the audience.

Members of the audience introduce themselves.

Chairwoman Stevens announced that Tod Stevenson has been selected to fill the position of Assistant Director and Bill Hays was selected to fill the position of Area Chief in Raton.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4. Approval of Minutes

(August 23, 2002, Regular Meeting.)

MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to accept the August 23, 2002 minutes, seconded by Commissioner Growney.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

(August 23, 2002 Special Meeting.)

MOTION: Commissioner Weaver moves to accept the August 23, 2002 minutes, seconded by Commissioner Ortega.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5. Approval of Agenda

MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to accept the agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Weaver.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. Consent Agenda

MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to accept the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Westall.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

Commissioner Padilla introduced District Attorney Mr. Matt Sandoval. District Attorney Sandoval welcomed the Commission to Las Vegas. Sandoval stated there were a lot of concerns about the Whites Peak area, which is a vast and important area that the public needs to have access to.

Charwoman Stevens announces the format by which the Commission would be addressed.


AGENDA ITEM NO. 7. Presentation of Amended 2003 – 2005 Big Game Rule Draft. Presented by Reagan Smetak - The Department presented the initial 2003-2005 Big Game Rule Draft proposal during the May 10, 2002 Commission meeting. Public input has been gathered on the draft. The Department presented the amended Big Game Rule Draft incorporating the public input obtained. No action is requested from the Commission at this time. It is expected that the amended draft will be open for further public comment and that final adoption will occur during the October 2002 Commission meeting.

Mostly supporting arguments are expected in view of the widespread public involvement effort carried out by the Department. Although all comments received were considered, not all were incorporated into the amended draft. Opposing arguments may arise from those individuals whose comments were not incorporated into the draft.

The recommendations includes:

The Department recommends a Sandia Mountain Youth deer hunt of 50 permits with season dates of November 22 through December 5 and an adult hunt of 50 permits with season dates of January 10-18.

The Department recommends a 2 male turkey bag limit statewide except Unit 32.

Department recommends next subdividing Unit 2 into Unit 26.

Burro Mountains deer permits allow 50 bow permits; 25 rifle youth only; and 25-rifle adult.

Bear season starting August 16-31 as a pursuit only season and a harvest season statewide September 25 through November 15. Limited draw permits available on wildlife areas with a season of August 1-31, no dogs allowed and September 1-25 hunting with bows only with no dogs.

Option 2 private land to hunt for oryx from April 1 through march 31; 40 ES permits per month; 2 applicants per application; each ranch to receive 4 authorizations and valid for 30 consecutive days.

Elk in Unit 4 will have 875 MB-A; 700 A; 350 bow license MB-A; private land hunts to end January 31.

No bighorn sheep ewe hunts; auction and lottery hunters can hunt September 1 through December 31.

Director Bell reminded the public that there were copies of the regulation available and encouraged them to review it. The information provided fully describes the season dates and changes proposed as well as those remaining from last year. They also have the exact permit numbers. Director Bell stated the Department has been working on this since May and the rule making process will close with a final rule will be adopted at the October 18 meeting of the Commission. In following the rule making process, the public was asked to submit any additional comments as soon as possible.


John Dimas – Not in agreement with oryx movement. Asked if the oryx on White Sands Missile Range were Chronic Wasting Disease free. Director Bell stated CWD has not been found in oryx. There is no evidence that CWD is transferable to or from that species into other animals. So the oryx population at this time remains CWD free.

Jan Hayes, Sandia Mountain Bear Watch – Not in agreement with Department’s recommendation on bear regulation changes. Hays presented to the Commission recommendations for the upcoming 2003-2004 bear hunts to the Commission.

Wendy Ruben – Not in agreement with a pursuit season on bears in the Manzano Mountains.

Dr. Gordon Eadman – Presented a petition to the Commission to decrease bear hunts in the Sandia Mountain region in order to replenish a declining bear population.

Maggie Trujillo – Spoke on elk problems in Unit 54. Requested an unlimited, either sex hunt in Unit 54, NE portion only.

Harley Leason – Unit 5A. Spoke in favor of the changes for the public land. He also added that he would like for the Commission to entertain the idea of shutting down the private land hunts from the last day of the deer hunt to December 15 to allow for the mule deer rut to occur before continuing hunting. He also requested that all the private land hunts be closed January 31.

Jim Grider – Commended the Commission on accepting Option 2 for oryx depredation. Encouraged the Commission to consider making the landowner depredation permits valid for the entire ranch unit.

Jan Blancher – Not in agreement with bear hunts in the Sandia and Manzano mountains. Requested that the Department review the 8-year bear study that others often refer to. First do a good study, see what there is. Then plan appropriately, so hunting can continue at a safe level.

Peggy Parsons – Voiced concerns of low bear population.

Tim Harkness, President of Unit 57-58 Elk Management Group-Offered comments on the management of elk. He would like the elk hunt moved to after the deer rut.

John Boretsky, NM Council of Outfitters and Guides – Congratulated the Department for development of the Big Game Regulations. Asked the Commission to consider the appropriateness of hunting elk in Unit 37. Also stated there is a conflict between either-sex elk hunters and antlerless elk hunters during the bow season in the Gila units. This issue needs to be examined. He endorses the Department’s recommendation on antelope. There needs to be a zone split for lion that divides the Tucumcari and Raton zone. There needs to be a greater lion quota in Zone 0 (GMU 12). He endorses the Department’s recommendations on bear but would like to see a hunt in the north area instead of just a pursuit season because dogs are not effective due to the terrain.

Ronnie Harral - Would like to increase hunting days for deer seasons to make it a better hunt and not put so much pressure on the hunters to do it all in 2 days.

Curtis Rhodes, Sandia Crest Bow Hunters Association - Asked for adult season with youth season (archery) in order to take their children and teach them how to hunt safely. Recommended closing Zone 55, Collin Neblet Area, to elk hunting.

Jan Moore, Manzano Mountain Economic Development Association – Concerned with economic and ecological health of the Manzano and Sandia Mountains. Not in agreement with bear hunts in those areas.

Dave Davenport, Sandia Mountain Bear Watch – Concerned with the decreasing bear populations in Manzanos. Not in agreement with Department’s recommendations.

Judy Davenport, Sandia Bear Watch – Not in agreement with bear hunting because bear numbers are declining.

Jeff Davis – Not in agreement with bear hunts in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains. Bears are heading towards extinction. Sees a significant effect on bear populations caused by hunters.

Tim Turri, President Otero County Sportsmen’s Association – Addressed proposed numbers of Unit 34 elk permits. Asked Commission to change the long-range plan objective from 1000 to 2000-2500 elk. Entered into record an additional 400 signatures to the original petition submitted to the Commission at the May meeting now totaling 2000 signatures indicating opposition to the elk management strategies in unit 34.

No name given – Not in agreement with bear recommendations presented by Department. Viable population is not there. Human intervention is needed to save bears.

Curt Kennedy – Feels bear population is fine and is in favor of Department’s recommendation. Also agrees with Tim Harkness on changing antelope season.

Paul Davis, President Manzano Mountain Economic Development Association – Thanked the Department for stopping the elk hunt in the Manzano Mountains and reducing the number of deer licenses available in the Manzanos. Supports the moratorium on bear hunting in the Manzano and Sandia mountains. Would like the elk population increased in Unit 34 to 3000.

Beverly Lang - Stated there were over 100 bears killed in Raton last summer. Asked for compassion towards animals. Not in agreement with Department’s recommendation.

Joe Albert, NM Wildlife Turkey Federation - Turkey hunters are in favor of a 2-bird limit in the spring hunt. Wants to generate projects and use up money (Sikes Act), requested submission of proposal.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens stated there would be no vote taken today because this is just a discussion with the Department. The final vote will be taken at the next Commission meeting in Portales scheduled for October. Commissioner Padilla commented to the person that stated that “public input was taken from only 2 conservation groups” was incorrect. Commissioner Padilla said all the groups that were listed such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International are indeed conservation groups. Commissioner Hurt asked how many bear were taken in the August hunt? Bill Dunn stated the August harvest was 269 bears, 165 males, and 104 females statewide. Chairwoman Stevens commended the Department on an excellent job on drafting the Big Game Rule. Chairwoman Stevens asked if the recommendation for bear season (August 16 through the 31) was a pursuit season only and if it was statewide? Smetak stated that was correct, excluding the Wildlife Management Areas. Chairwoman Stevens also asked if the August 1 through 31 seasons in the wildlife areas would be open for hunting? Smetak stated that was correct but added that no dogs would be allowed. Director Bell added that it would be a limited draw permit hunt. Chairwoman Stevens stated she supported the statewide 2-bird bag limit on turkey except for Unit 32. Chairwoman Stevens asked the Department to look at the dates for the September bow hunt. She has been inundated the last couple of weeks with calls especially from hunters in Unit 2, because of the hunt starting on September 1st through the 20th. The 1st this year fell on a Sunday and the 20th on a Friday and they felt like they missed out because the dates eliminated one weekend. Commissioner Ortega asked the Department for a summary of the proposed changes in a final form prior to meeting in Portales to specify the current rule and the proposed changes. An example given was: Here is where we were, these are the changes, and this is what it will look like it. He also requested that the Department obtains a good idea of how many bears the people from the Sandia and Manzano mountain area want. Commissioner Padilla agreed with Commissioner Ortega as far as identifying changes. He also requested a species-by-species review, with a discussion and a vote after each. This is especially true when it comes to elk. Commissioner Padilla asked if the public elk hunts end January 21, what about the private land hunts? Smetak stated that if you sign up for ranch-only you have the ability to hunt until March 31. Commissioner Padilla asked if the off-range statewide oryx hunt was over-the-counter or draw? Director Bell stated that was a draw because the number of hunters per month is still being limited. Commissioner Padilla asked why deer was over-the-counter when there are hardly any deer, yet elk permits are only offered through a draw? A lot of money is being spent on attempting to restore mule deer and yet they are being wiped out. Smetak stated what is being done with the deer recommendation is provide opportunity without negatively impacting the deer herd. Commissioner Padilla asked if trying to kill them did this? Smetak stated what they are trying to do is to allow some harvest but not one that exceeds recruitment. At the worse case scenario, they are looking at stabilizing the population. With the hunt structure, they are attempting to increase the herds but also provide hunter opportunity. Commissioner Padilla agreed with the statements made by the people in the audience that antelope are being hunted way too early. Let the bucks have a chance to breed. Commissioner Padilla also requested an examination of the elk permits in Unit 34 as requested to make sure that the Department is on the right track The Department should review splitting up the lion zone around Tucumcari and Newkirk as mentioned by John Boretsky. Commissioner Padilla would also like to have plenty of easels with Unit maps for the public and Commission at the October meeting. Chairwoman Stevens stated in reference to Commissioner Padilla’s comments, that deer are being managed by unit. Some units are draw and some are still over-the-counter and she fully supports this. Commissioner Hurt stated she has had a lot of interest from the SW area of the state to have a regular bear season that is open for the whole month of August in the Gila and areas around T or C and Socorro. Commissioner Hurt asked what the reasoning was for taking that hunt out and having just pursuit in that time period? Smetak replied that the reason this recommendation was brought forth was because a lot of the public and the hound hunters in the SW part of the state supported the idea. They wanted the opportunity to train their dogs. They understand the negative impacts of the August hunt. The Department is taking a conservative approach and can offer opportunity to hunt bear and the opportunity to train dogs. This was something that the Department, the Houndsmen Association and others supported. Commissioner Hurt stated with this year’s hunt, the hound hunters could still pursue bears. But if there was someone who wanted to actually hunt they could. Commissioner Hurt asked if there should not be some consistency with not so many changes from year to year? Chairwoman Stevens agreed. Smetak stated the Department could look closer at some limited harvest in August in order to remain consistent. Chairwoman Stevens stated that the Department needs more than just a few days in a year’s time to determination whether or not it is a success or failure. Until good hard data is obtained, a determination of the future cannot be made. Commissioner Hurt stated with the take of 269 bears in August is not dramatic statewide and would like to see where those bears were taken on a map with kills located by units. Commissioner Padilla stated he has had requests on the deer draw application that the rule be changed to have the entire fee submitted, not just the current $6.00 application fee. There are outfitters that are cramming the draw and skewing the results, making it hard for the locals to draw. Director Bell stated that was not necessarily part of the Big Game Regulation but the Application Regulations are currently open and there is no problem with requiring submitting the entire fee with the deer draw permit application. Chairwoman Stevens asked if that would cause undue problems for the Department in refunding if they do not draw? Director Bell stated it would be an extra process but is not an undue burden. Roberta Henry stated the only thing that will happen is that the application deadline is traditionally the end of April. Some individuals have already purchased a general hunting and fishing license so those folks will have to make a choice if the Department continues with the draw for deer in June with the application date in May. Commissioner Weaver felt due to the excessive amount of interest in the Sandia and Manzano Mountain bear populations he would like to see the 2003-2005 Regulations reflect that concern in limiting the season to October 15-November 15, with dogs only and no females or cubs may be taken. Chairwoman Stevens informed the public this is a recommendation, not an action item. Commissioner Ortega suggested closing bear hunting for a few years in the Manzano and Sandia Mountains. He felt the units in the Manzano and Sandia Mountains could be closed to bear hunting for a few years. He does not know how many hunters or outfitters would really be hurt but this would help these people deal with the situation. The habitat is not there. In the mountains, more people and buildings are encroaching on their habitat. People are hurting the habitat as much as the bear hunters are hurting bear. Commissioner Ortega felt this would be the only way to find out what was occuringand not blame each other. Commissioner Westall stated he has visited people in the East Mountains and that they say there are plenty of bears. In the past the public used to purchase a deer, bear and turkey license and the bears were never wiped out and there were a lot more hunters at that time then there is now. Commissioner Westall felt if the hunting were stopped, there would be a lot more bears. According to the report of 6000 bears, even with the ones taken, a small majority of the bears have not even been wiped out when there is a 2 to 3 thousand bear carrying capacity. Commissioner Growney asked if the Department has recent statistics in regard to the amount of bear complaints that the it has received since the spring (on a statewide basis) and if the numbers could be broken down into the Sandia/Manzanos? Director Bell stated that the Albuquerque office has dealt with in excess of 200 nuisance bear calls this spring in the Sandia/Manzano complex. As of last night, the Department captured the 24th bear that had come into Albuquerque and East Mountain region. Luke Shelby stated there were 180 nuisance bear calls in the Sandia and, East Mountain area since the beginning of April with the vast majority of those since the beginning of July. Twenty-three bears have been captured and relocated from the Albuquerque/Sandia areas and they were attempting to capture number 24 last evening. Of those 23, only 2 have been recaptures. Also, of the 9 females captured, 50% had cubs. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a citizens observation report. People who are out in the woods and see a bear, a turkey or bobcat, can call it in. The Forest Observation Report for all of August through September 15 listed 27 bear sightings and 8 of those were sows with cubs. Director Bell stated the Department has received good direction and a lot of good comments. However, at this point, it will bring forward 2 options at least, to the October meeting relative to Sandia bear issue. One mentioned by Commissioner Weaver to move the bear season to October 15 through November 15 for boars only using dogs and the other from Commissioner Ortega to consider complete closure. Chairwoman Stevens added that the Department would still maintain the original option that was brought forth today and had support from a number of the Commissioners. This option was the August 16th through 31st pursuit only and August 1st through 31st hunt on the wildlife management areas.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. Marquez Wildlife Management Area.

Presented by Tod Stevenson - The Department updated the Commission on various concerns regarding the acquisition of permanent access to the Marquez Wildlife Area. Items reviewed before the Commission were as follow: Appraisal/Comparison Information – The Marquez WMA is 14,501 acres, based on 1998 appraisal. It was valued at $834,000 or $57.50/acre w/o access or $1,305,000 or $90.00/acre w/access. Marques Town lots (23 lots, 235 acres) were valued at $70,500 for the land and $102,000 for the water rights. Water Background – Marquez WMA has State Engineer Permits for 3 wells, only one drilled has been drilled; the property deed confirms 45.4 acres irrigable at 3 acre/feet per acre. There is a water right filed with the filed with State Engineer for 132.61acre/feet water.

Current Proposals and Options:

Juan Tafoya Land Corporation: Current access for trade of equal value in property.

Caprock Pipe and Supply Company: 1.) Exchange Marquez WMA for Pipe Ranch with immediate easement to the WMA; 2.) Access easement for an easement along boundary.

Jack Diltz – Easement across his property for land trade on the Marquez WMA.

Eminent Domain – Chapter 17 NMSA provides authority for use of Eminent domain; could be used on current road on Juan Tafoya Land Corporation Land or Diltz property; Estimated cost of approximately 3 acres in 1998 including legal action and surveys was $65,000.00; Increased value of property to $431,000.

The Department is seeking Commission direction in addressing the lack of permanent access and proposals that have been received from adjoining landowners.


Ed Machin – Asked Stevenson if the access proposal to the Marquez by the Pipe Ranch would allow immediate public access for the hunter. Would it be treated as private land or would it be open to the public? Stevenson stated that access would be granted immediately for the public to continue to use the area while the process goes through, if the Commission chooses to pursue that alternative.

James Martinez, Juan Tafoya – Is willing to work with Commission to obtain access to the Wildlife Area. Area should stay open to the public and should not be traded for the Pipe Ranch because there is more wildlife on the Marquez. Director Bell added that a letter has been received from Juan Tafoya Land Grant expressing concern about the water rights. The Department has been given the opportunity to meet with their council, Chuck DuMars. A meeting will be set up to resolve the water rights issue before going forward. Any unresolved water rights issues will be brought forward to the Commission.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Stevenson stated that until a meeting takes place and water issues are resolved, the Commission would not go forward. Commissioner Hurt asked for guidance from Department as to which property would provide the most use and requested that a trade not be pursued unless it is truly advantageous. Commissioner Weaver asked if there was a downside for the easement exchange that anyone can see? He asked if it was correct that immediate access would be gained for the next 1 or 2 hunting seasons, and if the Department would not be out anything other than culverts and some gravel mining expenses that would keep them under the $100,000 limit? Chairwoman Stevens felt there were things that would need to be weighed in context. There would be an access across the west boundary of that property, it is fairly small on top and several of those issues have been discussed in the past. Stevenson felt the difference between not having access at all, versus having one, is a tradeoff that needs to be considered strongly. Without access, it would not make any difference how many deer or elk or other species are on that property for hunters to use. Commissioner Weaver felt there was not a downside and that the Department should proceed. In the end, the Department is left with a road and access no matter what happens as far as the trade. If Caprock builds the road, the value of the Marquez would be increased by $431,000. Commissioner Ortega asked if Commissioner Weaver was addressing proposal number 3 or 4? He preferred the number 3 proposal. The Department would have to build a road but less property would be lost. Chairwoman Stevens asked Stevenson to clarify the conditions for that access. Stevenson stated there were 2 options that the Caprock Pipe and Supply Company gave. One was to trade for the Pipe Ranch. If the Commission decided to pursue that trade, one portion of that proposal is that the Commission would receive immediate access through the easement discussed. There is also the second proposal that is to trade easement for easement: The same easement on the south end of the property for a 100 ft wide permanent easement on the west boundary of the Marquez that would go to the Caprock Pipe and Supply Company. Chairwoman Stevens felt the Commission is going to go forward with this in one way or another and if that would grant them the first option access than she would be in favor of directing the Department to do that. Commissioner Growney asked to restate proposal number 2 (the Caprock Pipe and Supply exchange for the Pipe Ranch). He wanted to make sure he understood it correctly. Tod was asked if the Department would be granted access immediately upon entering into negotiation with them? Stevenson said if the Commission chose to pursue the action of trading the Pipe Ranch for the Marquez Wildlife Area, that would be correct. Commissioner Growney asked if that would be a permanent access or access during the negotiation period? Stevenson stated to his understanding, the easement would stand as long as the Department was in negotiations. If indeed the negotiations fell through, the Commission would have the opportunity at that time to go back and re-evaluate any other proposals and that easement would not remain a permanent easement. Commissioner Growney, for the record, reiterated that it would be temporary easement while negotiations are ongoing with the Caprock Pipe and Supply for the Pipe Ranch. Stevenson stated that was correct, but only if the Commission chose to go into a binding negotiation process. Chairwoman Stevens clarified that this is a non-action item and the Department has their direction in going forward with obtaining the water rights and will come before the Commission in October. At that time the Commission will vote on the issue.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 9. Biennial Review of New Mexico Threatened and Endangered Species

Presented by Chuck Hayes - The Department presented a draft recommendation to the New Mexico State Game Commission regarding the status of species listed as Threatened, Endangered or Restricted under New Mexico’s Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA). The biennial reviews contains an updated description of the status of each state Threatened or Endangered species, along with a recommendation to up-list, down-list, or maintain the listing status of each species. A species is considered Endangered if it is in jeopardy of extinction or extirpation from the state. A species is threatened if it is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. The WCA directs that species may be upgraded from Threatened to Endangered, or downgraded from Endangered to Threatened, if data, views, and information regarding the biological status of the species indicate that such changes are appropriate. Species may not be added to, nor removed from, the list in a biennial review. These other actions require separate processes that are described within the WCA. Per regulation NMAC, the draft biennial review was made available for public comment for a minimum 90-day period, beginning on May 10. The draft biennial review was advertised through the Department’s tabloid newspaper insert, through contacts with mass media, and was listed on the front page of the Department’s web site with a link to the entire text of the draft biennial review. All of these sources contained an address to send written comments, and a link for submission of comments via e-mail was established on the Department’s web page. Copies of the entire biennial review were mailed out to all parties who requested it. A public repository was established at the Department’s Laboratory facility to hold all public comments, and to provide public access to any of those comments. Nine comments were submitted to the public repository during the initial 90-day public comment period for the 2002 biennial review. This compares to six comments that were submitted during the initial public comment period for the 2000 biennial review, when 2 species were recommended (and ultimately approved) for up-listing. The presentation of the recommendation regarding the 2002 biennial review at today’s State Game Commission meeting will open another 14-day period during which public comments will be accepted. Following the close of that comment period, an updated recommendation will be presented to the State Game Commission for action at the following Commission meeting. The Department’s recommendation for the biennial review is for no change to the current list of 125 state Threatened, Endangered or Restricted species. This is the same recommendation the Department made in its informational presentation regarding the biennial review to the Commission in May 2002. The Department is recommending some changes to the taxonomic nomenclature for some of the species on the list, including the 2 species (Alamosa and Koster’s springsnails) that were approved for up-listing in 2000. Changes in nomenclature serve to keep the regulation listing all of the state Threatened and Endangered species ( NMAC) updated and consistent with the accepted scientific nomenclature.



MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moved to go into the second day comment period and Commissioner Growney seconded it.

VOTE: Voice call vote was taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.


AGENDA ITEM NO. 10. Shooting Preserve Application, High Lonesome Showdown (Felix River Ranch Inc.)

Presented by Roy Hayes - Steve Lewis (manager) submitted an application for the High Lonesome Showdown (Felix River Ranch) Shooting Preserve. The proposed preserve consists of approximately 1100 acres of deeded land located southwest of Roswell in Chaves County, New Mexico. Proposed species include pheasant, chuckar, and scaled quail. The proposed species will be purchased from a Department permitted propagation facility.

Mr. Lewis currently manages the Felix River Ranch and the Felix River Hunting Park (Class A Park). The proposed shooting preserve is completely encompassed by the Felix River Ranch therefore no adjoining landowners will be affected. A review of the Game Department databases does not indicate any Game and Fish violations by Steve Lewis or the owner, Ludwig Fresenius.

The Department is recommending that the Game Commission approve this application.


John Dimas – Not in favor of introduction of exotics. He spoke about diseases introduced by exotics and asked about the ownership of birds released. Director Bell stated that in the instance of a Shooting Preserve, the ownership of wildlife does not change. The Shooting Preserve owner is allowed to purchase birds from a private source, but once released, they are considered within state ownership until lawfully reduced to possession. Should any birds escape, they can be hunted under state licensing requirements.


Commissioner Padilla asked if Steve Lewis was present. Hayes stated he was unable to attend. Commissioner Padilla asked if a background check had been done on him as well as the owner to check for violations. Hayes stated one had been completed and no violations had been found. Commissioner Padilla stated that a permit had been issued to an individual in the past, a background check had not been completed, and the permittee did have violations.

MOTION: Commissioner Westall moved to accept the Department’s recommendation. Commissioner Padilla seconded it.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 11. Landowner Incentive Program. Presented by Roberta Henry

The Department presented a listing of 14 project proposals to the Commission with brief descriptions that were submitted for consideration under the new Landowner Incentive Program (LIP). The Department requested the Commission's support of these projects contingent on the projects being deemed eligible by the Department and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Projects that are eligible and supported by the Commission will be included in the national competitive grant process.

Roberta Henry stated there is $30 million available to the states to allocate to the private landowner habitat restoration projects to benefit species of wildlife. The State of New Mexico is eligible to receive a total of $1.74 million in a two tier processes. Tier 1 is a grant of $180,000 given to the states for administration of the landowner incentive program and Tier 2 is a national competitive grant process to fund proposals that have been solicited from private landowners.

The 14 proposals totaled over $2 million and were all aimed at habitat restoration. The proposals identified mule deer, lesser prairie chicken, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, common black hawk, willow flycatcher, Rio grand leopard frog, Gunnison prairie dogs and burrowing owls as primary species. There are other species in these habitat restoration proposals that would benefit from this work, if it were to be funded.

The Department is requesting concurrence from the Commission to continue to work with the 14 project proposals and enter into the second phase that would be to develop the proposals and submit them for national competition. There are 50 states that will compete for the $30 million, so in reality, the maximum allowable of $1.5 million will most likely not be obtained. Henry stated that after the Department has been notified if they have been awarded any money at all, an in-house team of experts would review what proposals would be funded.

Information for final determination is expected in January from the Washington D.C. Office of the Fish and Wildlife Service. A final approved list will be brought before the Commission the latter part of January or February.


Jim Bailey – Asked where the lesser prairie-chicken projects would be, what counties and types of habitat restoration are being proposed. Henry did not have the project proposals available but would mail a copy to Mr. Bailey upon returning to the office.


MOTION: Commissioner Ortega seconded Commissioner Hurt moved to approve pursuing these projects and the motion.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 12. Black-tailed Prairie Dog Update.

Presented by Chuck Hayes - The Department has been serving to coordinate activities of the New Mexico black-tailed prairie dog working group, which includes participants from both agencies and a variety of non-governmental representatives from New Mexico, since July 2000. The Department provided an update of activities of this group, including progress on the development of strategies intended to meet all the participating interests regarding prairie dog management in New Mexico. The Department also presented an update to the Commission regarding actions involving black-tailed prairie dogs in New Mexico.

The Department has been coordinating information dissemination regarding black-tailed prairie dogs, and has been providing technical guidance for interested parties within the state. A working group of stakeholders and state-level agency representatives was established in July 2000.

The working group has developed a description of strategies and actions that it believes can be undertaken to achieve conservation of the species at a level sufficient to preclude the need for consideration of listing the species under the Endangered Species Act or the New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act. These strategies have been incorporated into a statewide conservation and management strategy (provided to the Commission in June 2002), which can serve as guidance for incorporation into each entity’s appropriate planning and decision processes.

The group is now working to facilitate implementation of the identified conservation and management actions, such as completion of a statewide population survey, application of Farm Bill or other incentive funds, etc. This presentation will provide the Commission with an update on the status of black-tailed prairie dog activities within New Mexico, and allow the Commission the opportunity to provide input or direction on any of these actions.

The Department’s recommendation is to continue to provide guidance and leadership regarding the biological status of this species within the state, and to continue to provide interagency and stakeholder coordination for this topic, as resources and manpower allow. These actions can help to direct appropriate management actions for black-tailed prairie dogs in New Mexico, and help achieve the goal of the state-working group.

The goal of the working group is to determine and achieve an appropriate balance of conservation and management of black-tailed prairie dogs on state and federal lands in New Mexico, and to coordinate these activities with voluntary conservation and management of this species on state trust and private lands. It is intended that conservation of black-tailed prairie dogs on these lands will assure an adequate abundance, distribution, and viability of the species in New Mexico and preclude the need for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act or under the Wildlife Conservation Act.

By necessity, this process has been conducted in a collaborative manner involving a variety of parties. Because the black-tailed prairie dog is not listed as a protected game species in New Mexico, many of the items within both the interstate MOU and the statewide conservation and management strategy are outside of the authority of the Department. For example, New Mexico statutes provide direction to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture regarding the management of damage to crops or other lands by prairie dogs.

Because black-tailed prairie dog colonies also provide habitat for a variety of other grassland wildlife, they are a consideration for agencies with a mandate to manage lands for multiple uses that include provision of wildlife habitat.

As a tool to help implement the statewide conservation strategy, the Department has developed a draft, state-level MOU that affirms each entity’s commitment to assist in achieving the goal of the working group as it relates to black-tailed prairie dog conservation and management. All of the participating entities have reviewed the draft MOU, and some have expressed their willingness to sign and support it at this time.


John Dimas –Asked if the Department is doing anything to study black-footed ferret for diseases that could possibly hurt the population dynamics?

Caren Cowen, NM Cattle Growers – Looks forward to preserving species without having to deal with Endangered Species Act.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens commented that the Department has done an excellent job in their communication with other agencies in keeping the doors open and working closely with interested parties.

MOTION: Commissioner Hurt moves to proceed in the same manner and give the Department support. Seconded by Commissioner Growney.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 13. 19.31.4 NMAC, the Fisheries Rule; Concerning Burns Lake in Rio Arriba County. Creating a New Category of “Family Waters”.

Presented by Mike Sloan - The Department has recently reopened Burns Canyon Lake near Parkview Hatchery to public fishing. The lake was closed while the Department sought to expand the current water use permit to allow public fishing. After obtaining public input, application was made to the State Engineer’s Office to expand the permitted uses of the water.

After the reopening of the lake, it has been observed that anglers are catching and keeping large numbers of fish. A secondary issue is the frequent consumption of alcohol and subsequent trash and vandalism. The Department is requesting that the Commission review the current bag/possession limits and the types of anglers that are allowed to fish at the lake. The Department proposes to change the bag/possession limit to 3 fish per day with 3 fish in possession.

Further, the proposal would restrict angling to seniors over 65, children 14 or younger, and not more than 2 adults supervising a child 14 or younger. This rule change would create a new category of waters, “Family Waters”, thereby reducing the likelihood of excessive take and vandalism.

If this rule proves successful, other lakes around the State may be considered for designation, as “Family Waters”. The Commission does not have the authority to restrict alcoholic consumption on its properties. Restricting the age of anglers may be an alternative method of reducing alcoholic consumption and damage.


Antonio Manzanarez – Opposes opening Burns Canyon Lake. Not in favor of Department’s recommendation.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens asked if the Department foresees any difficulty in the law enforcement portion of this. Sloan stated Brian Gleadle, of the Law Enforcement Division, felt it would be difficult to enforce. Commissioner Padilla stated the question of whether the lake is open to fishing or not is not what is being discussed. It is how it will be managed. When it was reopened to fishing, it was a “mad house”; people going in and catching a lot of fish, trashing the area and no provisions were made for trashcans. Since that time, he understands the State Parks has provided trashcans and there are law enforcement efforts going on.

Within the last two weeks, the local radio station in Chama has been discussing this subject over the air and asking for input from the local community. It is very strongly supported by the people there. Commissioner Padilla recommended the Department change opening and closing dates. Currently it opens April 1 and closes October 31. He has been told it would be much better to open it May 1 because it is a prime waterfowl breeding area and by opening it on April 1, it interferes with waterfowl breeding.

Commissioner Padilla would like to amend the proposal to open May 1.

Chairwoman Stevens’ only concern is the enforcement portion. Will anything be gained from this or will the same problem continue? Commissioner Ortega stated that based on the history of this issue, it seems there was an overwhelming amount of people that wished to have the lake opened for public use. Commissioner Ortega was in agreement with Commissioner Padilla’s request for amendment but asked if it could be handled as an amendment now or if it needed to be published. Director Bell stated it was appropriate to add an amendment to the rule change if he so wished.

MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moves to accept the Department’s recommendation with the change of the opening date of May 1. Seconded by Commissioner Growney.

Chairwoman Stevens reiterated that this sounded good, but if nothing is to be gained and it is just as difficult to enforce, then she does not see why the Department should go through the process. Director Bell noted that on the enforcement issue it is currently wide open. It is open year round and anyone can go there. The mere posting of additional rules may cause some deterrent and the majority of people will try to comply. It will narrow the amount of people that will attempt to disobey the rule. The family requirement is not any more or any less burdensome. As far as enforcement, the difficulty comes in successfully prosecuting. The burden of showing that the child was or was not fishing, has some added burden, but does not require any additional enforcement time.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 14. 19.31.8 NMAC, the Big Game Rule; Pertaining to Chronic Wasting Disease Deer Entry Hunt Procedures NMAC

Presented by Kerry Mower –The Department is recommending that the Commission approve amendments to the 2002-03 Big Game Rule NMAC 19.31.8. The proposal included mandatory check-in and out of the hunt area, mandatory testing of all harvested deer, and mandatory transportation of only boned meat and cleaned skullcaps out of the hunt area. Mower asked the Commission if they wished to take a vote on this proposal. Chairwoman Stevens stated she believed this was not an action item at this time and therefore did not require a vote. Director Bell stated that was correct. What was being done today was to present only. The Big Game Rule itself is open but has been advertised as being open for changes to the 2003-2005 rule making process. The Rule the Department is requesting change on today is relative to the 2002 hunting season. By presenting this to the Commission it opens the 2002-2003 process and adoption can take place at the October meeting.

Mower proposed some general conditions the Department would like to add to the upcoming Big Game Regulation. The Western States Heath Cooperative has adopted suggestions, sent them to all the states, likewise at the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. These are essentially the same regulations that have been implemented by Colorado. As the two associations reviewed them they felt they were good, comprehensive and could be used generally. These conditions would regulate the movement of carcass parts from areas tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. The only parts that would be taken out of that designated area would be meat that is cut and wrapped, either professionally or by the hunter. Quarters with no other portions of meat and no portions of the spinal column and brain tissue attached. Boned out meat, a hunter could bone his meat and have it in a cooler then remove that meat without any of the rest of the carcass. Hides with no heads attached, the clean skull plates from a trophy animal, or one where they wanted to take the antlers. If the hunter wanted to take just the antlers they could take those antlers with no meat or tissue attached and the ivory’s in the case of elk. Some areas such as Colorado have a number of contiguous GMU’s that would include taxidermist and so a hunter would have the option to leave an animal in the area with a taxidermist and then remove just the taxidermy part. Mower requested the Commission consider adding these suggestions to the Big Game Regulation that is open.


John Dimas – Since CWD is going to hurt the dynamics of the deer, added with hunting pressure and depredation, he felt considerable damage would occur to the population. If the hunters consume the meat and get sick it will compound the problem. He suggested not hunting them, just leaving them alone.

Ed Machin, NM Wildlife Federation – Asked for clarification. Would the heads go to the Department or, as long as there was no meat or tissue attached, could they keep the antlers with skull? Mower stated that spinal column or brain tissue would not be allowed to leave the area.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens voiced her support and felt it was better to err on the conservative side especially when bringing meat across state lines. Our state wildlife needs to be protected.

Commissioner Weaver asked if the Department is collecting brain stem tissue and so on if a positive for CWD was found if there would be some mechanism to inform the hunter immediately. Mower stated hunter names and numbers are being identified in the event they need to be informed. Director Bell clarified that there is currently no evidence that CWD positive animals could transfer the disease to humans. Caution is advised and hunters are asked to make up their own mind if they wish to consume the animal. The cases in Wisconsin have been ruled to not be CWD related so there is still no evidence that CWD will transfer to humans.

Chairwoman Stevens stated the first part presented by Mower would be addressed in October. The presentation Mower just made is in regards to the open rule at this time.

Commissioner Padilla asked if by removing meat and tissue, would it be sufficient to address clean skull plates and attached antlers? Would they need some kind of chemical cleaning? Mower stated at this point, the people in Colorado have felt this would be sufficient and they have not given any recommendations for bleaching the skull or using any other chemicals to clean it. That could be an option the Department could insist on if the Commission wished. Commissioner Padilla asked if it was necessary. Mower felt it was something that certainly would not hurt. With the instruments that are used to remove brain stem tissue samples the recommendation is to place the instruments in a solution of 1/3 Clorox and 2/3 water for 15 minutes. What is being attempted is to preempt any other state from saying “we don’t want to take anything from New Mexico”. This is a proactive measure and if other states think that New Mexico is doing everything they can to contain any possibility of removing CWD from the area, they will be far less likely to institute any kind of a moratorium against game parks and game animals from our state. Commissioner Padilla urged Mower to do that just to be on the safe side.

MOTION: Commissioner Padilla moved to adopt the Department’s recommendation as presented. Seconded by Commissioner Hurt.

Chairwoman Stevens asked what avenues would be used in getting this information out to the public. Mower stated he would work with the Public Affairs Division to ensure that the public is informed. It could be highlighted in the proclamation and placed in news releases along with other avenues to make sure hunters understand this. Director Bell mentioned on the public notification process, the Department will also posts notices at license vendors, sporting good stores and will see if a part can be added to the NM Outdoors. Director Bell asked on another point of clarification on the motion if it also included adding to the regulation a Clorox emersion technique? Commissioner Padilla felt it should be added. Director Bell reiterated the motion: For adoption of the regulation with the provision that Clorox emersion takes place. Chairwoman Stevens asked Commissioner Hurt if she would like to have her second remain under those conditions. Commissioner Hurt replied, yes.

VOTE: A voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 15. 19.30.5 NMAC, the Private Land Elk License Allocation Rule; Concerning a Unit 4 Pilot Private Land Elk Allocation Proposal.

Presented by Robyn Tierney - Most of the small landholdings in Game Management Unit 4 are classified as non-qualifying ranches under (M) NMAC and are presently allocated one either-sex, ranch only authorization. Several of the larger ranches in Unit 4 do not make full use of their authorizations during each hunt year and have offered to return these to the Department for redistribution to the smaller non-qualifying landowners in Unit 4.

The Department is proposing to initiate a pilot project for the next two years that would allow larger landowners to transfer their unused authorizations to a pool. Non-qualifying ranches in Game Management Unit 4 who have signed up in the Landowner Signup System would automatically draw an authorization from the pool. Each authorization is valid only for the private land for which they were issued and on other private lands within Unit 4 when the permit holder has written permission from the landowner or person in control of the land, to trespass on that land. This approach would provide for: 1) a more equitable distribution of a limited number of mature bull authorizations; 2) greater opportunity for the smaller landholdings in Unit 4 to make use of available unused authorizations; and 3) optimal use of the resource.

History of the Issue: This idea had been discussed in earlier meetings of the Northern Rio Arriba County Depredation Committee and was viewed favorably at that time. More recently, many of the small landowners have met with the Director to discuss this proposal in the hope of designing a better approach to deal with the related issue of elk depredation while not negatively impacting the herd’s quality or viability. Support from both large and small landowners is anticipated.


COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Commissioner Padilla stated he met with small landowners along the Chama River who had several hundred elk on their properties. Subsequent meetings with larger landowners were held and then a joint meeting between the small and large landowners and there was 100% vote in favor of this plan. Chairwoman Stevens felt this was a good plan and an excellent pilot project that will give the Department a foundation to gather information and learn something.

MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moved to accept the Department’s recommendation as presented, seconded by Commissioner Hurt.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 16. Mexican Wolf recovery Program

Director Bell reminded the Commission that previously the Commission adopted a non-support position for Mexican Wolf recovery in the State of New Mexico, but in doing so, asked the Department maintain some involvement. The presentation from Hayes is the effort to seek guidance on the right level of involvement so that the Department proceeds down the road in a consistent direction.

Director Bell introduced Terry Johnson of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Johnson is before the Commission today to answer any questions that may arise during the presentation and also give a brief overview of the position of the Arizona Game Commission on this subject.

Chuck Hayes – The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program in Arizona and New Mexico. In March of 2002 in Socorro, the State Game Commission directed the Department to participate in, but not support the program, in New Mexico. Since then, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission has directed the Arizona Game and Fish Department to convey in writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service their desire to restructure the program so as to give the Arizona Game and Fish Department more control over the program.

The Commission was updated on the progress of the program to date and the desires of the Arizona State Game Commission. Hayes stated the Department is critical of the manner in which the 3-year review was conducted. However, the Department believes that scientific portions of the review represented best available science and the Biological Review recommendations are credible and objective from a scientific perspective. The 3-year review provided important information that can and should be used in adaptive management process with continued scientific rigor and due consideration to other factors, not fully addressed to improve the project.

Project adaptive management process must become more inclusive of the public and collaborative decision making among the primary cooperators; use all input and recommendations gained through the adaptive management process, must be the core of the project henceforth. The Department wishes to make it clear that concerns about this project relate to past decisions and guidance and in no way reflect on the leadership of current Regional Director H. Dale Hall.

The Department is requesting direction of the Commission on the following: Does the Commission want the Director to sign a joint letter from New Mexico and Arizona based on the issues identified? And does the Commission want New Mexico to take a different or more active role in the direction of or decisions regarding the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program?


John Dimas – In favor of wolf introduction.

Michael Pacheco – Stated he did not hear anything about the Mexican Wolf Recovery and asked Hayes to comment on what is really going on.

Director Bell requested the Commission allow a response so everyone understands the current status of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. Chairwoman Stevens asked that all be aware that Hayes would not be able to go over the whole presentation but a summary would be accepted. Hayes stated it was intentional not to get into the nuts and bolts of what is going on. It is not the focus of this effort, it is to look at the process being used, and the way the program is being implemented to see if it is effective. It has been about 4 years since the program has been in existence. When it started with the releases of wolves in Arizona.

The Department had wolves trans-located from Arizona when they were taken into captivity or captured from Arizona for management purposes and later released into New Mexico. They are in the vicinity of the Gila Wilderness. That has gone on since 2000 and at this point there are plus or minus 30 wolves. A very small number are still in New Mexico, maybe two groups, but the majority of wolves are in Arizona.

Some of those released in New Mexico have been captured and brought back into captivity because they were either causing problems with livestock or just showing up in areas around humans. With about 30 wolves and a variety of packs, only about 2 are in New Mexico.

They are still looking at potential release sites but there still needs to be a site specific evaluation of whether or not these sites are suitable for moving wolves that have been captured and initially released in Arizona.

Terry Johnson, Arizona Game and Fish – What is happening on the Arizona side has very little to do with the biology of the wolves. Arizona has reached a point where they felt compelled to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service as directly as possible that they are not satisfied with the way project is moving. It is felt it is failing in a couple of different areas that are curable. They do not wish to support wolf reintroduction but do want to, with wolves on the ground, do everything to make it a success. It is a success as viewed from a wolf’s perspective and also from a social perspective.

What they are doing at this point is telling the USF&WS that they want the project reconstructed so that the social issues can be addressed more openly than what has been done under the federal leadership at the field level. Johnson stated they want an opportunity to restructure the public outreach and participation process so that all stakeholders have an opportunity to express themselves more directly than in the past.

They would like this done in a very short time frame so that they can get their act together. Congressmen Skeen has offered them a wonderful opportunity, but at the same time Skeen’s desire to have a review is an indication of some of the problems discussed. Skeen made this announcement on June 17, 2001, not 2002.

That review has not been conducted. The review was conducted in September with the final announcement of the proceedings of the stakeholders group. There has been no feedback to the public on all the elements of that review. It is felt to be a failure of process on the part of the primary cooperators.

The primary cooperators, consisting of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Departments of New Mexico and Arizona, have not had the role they were promised in this program. Which was, that they would jointly collaborate and run the program and be accountable for its success and failure.

Johnson felt this was an opportunity for them to step up and say the states do want to take this on. It is known through the court settlement from White Sands that wolves are going to be on the ground. Other people may contest that. What they are saying is, that with wolves on the ground they want the states to be in the lead of the projects.

Chuck Hays stated wolves have established home ranges in the wild. They are successfully reproducing in the wild. They are feeding on wild prey. They were being fed when first released, but are now taking wild prey. There have been livestock depredation incidents and also incidents of contacts with humans, both are close to what was predicted in the EIS. Wolf mortality, if you count removal from the wild for wolves getting in trouble has been higher than projected.

Caren Cowen, NM Cattle Growers– Concurs with some of the items reviewed today. No data available on this review. Having the state more involved would be a benefit. Encourage state to be involved and look at all sides.

Cecelia Abeyta, NM Farm Bureau – Shares the same concerns as the cattle growers. Thanked the stated for being actively involved in this review and also encourage the state to move forward and continue to be involved and address the issues expressed by Mr. Johnson of Arizona.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens thanked Arizona for bringing this forward. This is a good opportunity for the two states to work together. Although this Commission in the past has taken the stance of not necessarily supporting the reintroduction they want to be involved to be informed as to the where about and activities of the wolf. It is also felt that New Mexico needs to be a part of this with Arizona. Commissioner Ortega mentioned on the last paragraph of the first page of the letter there was a correction needed. The word “of” should be “if”. The Commission reserves the right if instead of.

MOTION: Commissioner Hurt felt the Commission could only benefit by being more active in the program so she moved to accept the motion that Arizona Game and Fish presented. Seconded by Commissioner Ortega.

Chairwoman Stevens asked Commissioner Hurt if the motion was to accept the Department’s recommendation for the joint letter with Arizona. Commissioner Hurt stated that was correct.

Director Bell asked it the motion included the six points brought forward in the motion presented previously to the Arizona Game Commission? Commissioner Hurt stated that was correct.

Chairwoman Stevens calls for the question.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 17. Capital Projects. Presented by Patrick Block

Block mentioned the Department was before the Commission in September to request approval of the Fiscal year 2004 Budget Request. Today a request is being brought forth for Capital Outlay Projects. They follow a parallel, but separate track from the budget request. This year there is one new project approval is being sought for, and also included in the request is reauthorization of an additional project.

Both projects involve the Department’s Red River Fish Hatchery. The new project is a request for $325,000 from the Game Protection Fund that would be used to replace the main water supply line at the Red River Hatchery. In previous legislative sessions there have been two appropriations of $750,000 each, both from the Game Protection Fund and these were to be used to complete upgrades of the hatchery to address whirling disease and also if money permits, to perform an expansion of the hatchery building. In the first appropriation there was language that said the appropriation had to be completely expended by the end of FY 2002. The money has been transferred out of the Game Protection Fund but it has not all been put into the project. At this point it is not positive the requirement of the statutes has been met so a request will be made to reauthorize that $750,000. If the interpretation turns out to be that the requirement of the bill has been met the request can be withdrawn.

An update of the cash balance projection for the Game Protection Fund was presented. In the projection, there is a new figure in the FY 2005 budget that is a rough estimate, but it is understood, that work on spillways will need to be performed on State Game Commission owned lakes. Block stated the standard on spillways now requires the spillway be large enough to withstand a 500-year flood event. There is no request on the table for this but the Department wished to set the stage because it is felt it will be an issue in the future.



MOTION: Commissioner Ortega moves to approve the Capital Outlay Project, seconded by Commissioner Weaver.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

COGRATULATIONS: Chairwoman Stevens congratulated Commissioner Tamara Hurt who has been inducted into the 4-H State Hall of Fame.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 18. Commission/Department Discussion

The Commission was handed information on The Value of The North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Director Bell stated the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently adopted the model. In the packet are 6 governing principals. Director Bell requested that they be reviewed by the Commission, given consideration and perhaps be they could be brought back at the October meeting to seek the Commission’s pleasure for adoption as guiding principals for this Commission and the Department. Director Bell recapped the governing principals for the Commission. Director Bell felt these were good governing principals, well founded and asked the Commission’s consideration after review for adoption in October. Chairwoman Stevens concurred and requested it be placed on the agenda for October.

Inter-State Stream Commission – Game Protection Fund Money

The Department was informed yesterday that the Inter-State Stream Commission has prepared their budget documents for submission and they currently have a request that $6 million of Game Protection Fund money be used for the repair of the outlet works at Eagle Nest Lake. Director Bell felt it was going to take some legal review as to the appropriateness of the Game Protection Fund being utilized by Inter-State Stream and encouraged the State Game Commission to write a stern letter to Inter-State Stream Commission expressing their extreme disappointment for having not been involved in the decision to use money under its control and jurisdiction.

Chairwoman Stevens agreed and felt like the Inter-State Stream Commission has overstepped their boundaries and would appreciate the Department drafting a letter. Commissioner Hurt felt it was pretty amazing that someone would take and spend $6 million of the budget that belonged to someone else. The Commission also had to look at some other sources of this to help the Inter-State Stream because the Commission is not concerned if the water is released from the dam, but that the water is kept behind the dam for the wildlife.

Director Bell stated there are downstream issues and concerns that the Department has to guarantee the delivery of water out of that dam. The money would be used for making sure that delivery could be done in a safe and efficient manner. It does raise some legal questions such as, if the Department’s money is appropriated for use by another agency, there are serious concerns with Federal Aid money being diverted. We run the risk of losing $8 million if that money is appropriated for use by another agency. Director Bell felt the Department should work with Inter-State Stream to prepare a more appropriate funding proposal. Chairwoman Stevens stated the Commission would not take public input on this agenda item.

Drought Management Recommendations –

Bill Hays stated the Department has been working with the Governor’s Task Force on drought. The Task Force Group consists of several federal and state agencies along with a few other organizations. Among those are the NM Department of Agriculture, the US Forest Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, BLM, State Forestry and Bureau of Reclamation. Several items the Department has had a say in are as follow.

State Forestry has taken the lead along with the US Forest Service on what is called 20 communities. That is a list of about 20 communities spread out among the state where they are trying to lessen some of the fire severity danger in and around the town limits. One of the concerns outside of the fire danger is when the projects are accomplished it possibly could entice elk and other species back in closer to those towns exacerbating depredation.

Hays went on to say that the Department is working with the Task Force primarily to address habitat concerns off site that will hopefully lessen depredation problems if not eliminate them. The Department has also been working with the agencies to identify areas of forage concern and water concerns that those agencies may have relating to the drought.

The major aspect of what is being done with the Governor’s Task Force is trying to delineate long-term needs in response to what may be a long-term drought. Director Bell added as a result of the drought that our big game animals are especially going to be entering the winter in poor condition. The Department is beginning a process to assess the conditioning of those animals. If elk and deer have less than 6% body fat going into the winter, they will not survive. They cannot consume enough food throughout the winter to build up those reserves.

Director Bell stated the Department has just completed delivery of 400 tons of hay to the Chama area in order to off-set some of the damage caused on private land by elk. The hay was delivered by the Department as mitigation for hay that elk feed on throughout the summer months. We replenished some supplies of hay to the landowners to offset and resolve wildlife damages. In addition, the Department met with some of the Santa Fe Forest permittees yesterday as well as Cattle Growers, Farm Bureau and US Forest representatives. There is a plan in anticipation of whatever spring green up may come in order to get the ranges back in the necessary shape to continue to support wildlife and livestock to do some localized population reduction hunts beginning perhaps in February and extending through March. Mineral blocks will be provided to those areas in an effort to hold the elk up on the ridges and out of the meadow so that some of the habitat can begin to recover as a result of this summer’s drought. Director Bell mentioned the Department anticipates having another $5,000 two-year Forage Lease Agreement prepared for the Gos family down in the Sacramento Allotment area as well as an anticipated long term big game partnership effort going forward as we balance the elk issue.

Seven Springs Fish Hatchery Opening:

Director Bell reminded the Commission and the public that the Department is celebrating the opening of the Seven Springs Hatchery September 28, 2002 at 1:00 p.m. at the hatchery in the Jemez Mountains. A major renovation has just been completed and the hatchery is dedicated to cutthroat trout restoration. It is because of this hatchery and similar efforts that the Department was able to avoid an endangered species listing of the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. All persons were invited to attend.

Predator Control

Presented by Barry Hale – The State Game Commission recently approved a plan for the Department to begin implementing long-term deer restoration efforts in designated project areas referred to as the Northwest Corridor and GMU 30/Guadalupe Mountains. Part of the plan includes more intensive and focused coyote control activities within and adjacent to deer fawning sites. In order to ensure adequate resources are available to do this work, coyote control activities in some of the currently designated high priority deer units will be modified and/or terminated. The purpose of this update is to inform the Commission of the Department’s intent to begin shifting coyote management activities toward the new project areas commencing in the spring of 2003. The Department is preparing to implement the following three –tiered approach to coyote management in selected sites within the Northwest corridor and GMU 30/Guadalupe Mountains project areas. 1) Maintaining two professional trappers in the Northwest Corridor and hiring one trapper in GMU 30 for winter trapping as well as maintenance trapping during and after fawning. 2) Implementing aerial hunting activities prior to fawning within and adjacent to those same selected locations, and 3) Authorizing opportunistic take by Department staff within those locations under specific guidelines. Wildlife Services (WS) has been contacted to perform the aerial hunting portion of this plan. A Joint Powers Agreement with WS will be developed for administering these activities. According to WS staff, they have met the necessary NEPA requirements to perform aerial hunting within the project areas. Coyote trapping in GMU 23 (Burro Mountains portion) will continue for one more year. Trapping in GMU’s 5B and 10 will continue; however, the majority of the trapping effort will be shifted further into the Northwest Corridor project area. Coyote trapping in GMU 30 will be initiated as part of the new plan. Trapping in GMU’s 17 and 37 will be terminated. Director Bell stated, as the Department becomes an active participant in aerial gunning with Wildlife Service, a great amount of controversy can be anticipated. If the Commission has any feelings, the Department would appreciate knowing. Chairwoman Stevens agreed and stated the Department has Commission support.

Amendment of Trespass Statute

Director Bell requested it not be discussed at this time. Neither the legislation, nor the wording is prepared. The Department did commit at the last meeting to work with Bob Rickliffs on some amended language and have not been able to get together with him.

Unit 48 Hunter Access

The Department is still in litigation over the issue of the northern part of Unit 48, the Whites Peak area. An appeal is being sought to gain access from the north. That property has now been sold and there is a new owner of the property. In addition, there is increasing concern about access from other points primarily from the south and west of Unit 48, bound by the Stanley Ranch. David Stanley, the owner, is getting stricter about allowing access on to what he believes is his private property. There are some legal issues surrounding the roadway. Both the District Attorney in this county and the DA in Colfax County have some concerns about Stanley’s ability to totally block that access. Director Bell informed the Commission that the States legal position would be discussed further in Executive Session.

Legislative Request

Steve Henry requested the Commission consider for this year’s legislation, allowing 2 elk permits to be issued to terminally ill children. Henry stated there are young men dying from cancer and their dying wish is to go elk hunting. Make A Wish Foundation grants terminally ill children a wish. However, the Make A Wish Foundation does not promote hunting. As a result, another group formed called The Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation. These children do not have the ability to put in for the draw. They are not even diagnosed with a disease before the draw. The Department looks for landowner licenses for these children. Last year one was found, but not this year. The Foundation purchased a landowner license for $4,500. Henry proposes that the Commission consider going to the State Legislature and ask to amend Chapter 17 to allow for 2 elk permits to be issued to terminally ill children and that they be made available to The Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation. The Department tried to find a free guide and outfitter and often department personnel have guided. Henry stated there were other ways to do this. In theory, the Game Commission could issue permits for elk hunting over the counter. There is no law that says all permits have to be issued through public draw. There are pro’s and con’s to this approach. The cons are that the amount of public support for a decision like that might not be there. It might be better to go to the State Legislature and make it a law instead of a Commission Rule. Also, opening the door to the Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation might encourage other less-worthy groups to make the same request.

COMMISSION DISCUSSION: Chairwoman Stevens felt this was a worthwhile opportunity but had a concern about going to the Legislature. If it was voted down or dropped, would the Commission still be able to issue those permits? Director Bell stated this can be done and could be brought up when the need arose to seek a license fee increase. This does not have to be brought before the Legislature this year. If it were taken before the Legislature as a separate bill and failed, there would be other options. One possibility is to go before the Conservation Officer’s Association and let them approach the landowners for a permit, purchase it, and offer it to The Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation. Chairwoman Stevens felt it is a worthwhile project and that the Department should proceed. Commissioner Padilla offered his support of this in Legislation. Director Bell will draft language and come before the Commission in October. This would also be an opportunity for the Commission to let the Department know if they have any legislation they would like to advance to the Governor’s Transition Team. Commissioner Westall felt a request in management plans for all species, endangered species, big game species; small game species should be advanced to the Commission through the Director for approval prior to being sent out to the public. This should take place in October or November. Director Bell stated that would not be a problem.

Update on Bear Situation

Bill Dunn informed the Commission that the Department has taken action and is continuing to take action not only with the Sandia and Manzano bear situation, but also with all the bears in New Mexico. Dunn provided a summary on the Sandia and Manzano Mountains complex. To date, in the Sandia complex, 23 bears have been captured of which 9 females had 7 cubs. It is not know to what degree reproduction is occurring this year, but it is known that there is reproduction. On several occasions officers have gone to respond to a nuisance bear calls and found a sow with cubs. Of importance is that out of 23 captures, only 2 were recaptured. If the population of bears was very small, there would be a lot of recaptures. This is one signal that bears are not at a point of extirpation, as some have feared.

As of yesterday, 200-nuisance bear calls have been recorded since April. Four males and 1 female were taken in the harvest in the Manzanos.

Preliminary counts of statewide pelt tags show a harvest of 269 bears. In the Sandias, the long-term average is a little less than 2 bears per year. Last year and this year there was a higher than average kill. The same was true for the Manzanos with 7 males and 9 females killed with a long-term average of 12 bears.

A bear study is being conducted in the Sandia and Manzano mountains. Seven nuisance bears have been radio collared in an attempt to determine the population characteristics. There are three objectives to the study: 1) Determine the travel corridors. 2) The habitat used and

3) Determine the population size. A lot of population estimates have been based on the fact that there is very little reproduction.

This has been a bad year, but one of the things the Eight Year Bear Study showed was that unless you have a total failure of berry and acorn crop, there is going to be some reproduction. The only time where the bear population cannot get any recruitment is when there is total failure. There has been low years but have not had a total failure of the acorn crop. Dunn stated that the Department is keeping a close eye on this population. He concurred that the Department needs to start looking at these areas. One of the problems is that the Department needs ask the public how many bears would be acceptable, i.e. what is the social carrying capacity? At this time, some people are disappointed in the Department’s management saying they want more bears, but are they really willing to accept what comes with that? Steps are being taken to come up with better planning, but it takes time.

Director Bell expressed his appreciation to Chairwoman Stevens and Commissioner Hurt for their attendance at the New Mexico State University Wildlife Biology Short Course. He also appreciated members of the public that took time out of their schedules to attend. Chairwoman Stevens, as an attendee felt it was extremely beneficial and would like see the course offered on an annual basis. Commissioner Padilla stated the meeting room was unacceptable. The acoustics were poor and this should be avoided in the future.

Commissioner Padilla thanked Ed Machin for his article in the NM Wildlife Federation Publication reporting on the award presented to the NM State Game Commission from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 18. General Public Comments: (Comments limited to 3 minutes.)

John Boretsky – NM Council of Outfitters and Guides - Hunt of a Lifetime is a tremendous program and the Council has supported it for almost 3 years. On the San Juan, the Bureau of Reclamation has published its Environmental Impact Study and public comment will begin next Tuesday. There will be public hearings at the Public Center in Farmington.

Tony Trujillo, Sportsmen Concerned for New Mexico, Las Vegas Chapter – Interested in Unit 48 access and is requesting the Commission consider public access and expand the definition of public roads and not limit it to state highways or county roads.

David Sedillo – Requested the Commission consider public access in Unit 48.

Harley Leason, Lindrith Community – (In reference to his property.) Feels that a regulation to deal with trespass is needed. The Proclamation states that an application is supposed to be accompanied by a landowner permission slip. What he would like is a commitment from the Commission that he can go back to Lindrith and say the Commission is going to figure out how to close all of the loopholes that hunters use to get into this system. It is a public safety problem.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 19. Closed Executive Session

Chairwoman Stevens made a motion to enter into Closed Executive Session pursuant to NMSA 10-15-A (H-2, H-7 and H-8) of the Open Meeting Act in order to discuss limited issues of personnel matters, litigation and land acquisition.

MOTION: Commissioner Weaver moved to enter into Closed Executive Session pursuant to statute. Seconded by Commissioner Growney.

Director Bell Calls roll:

Commissioner Thomas Growney Yes

Commissioner Tamara Hurt Yes

Commissioner George Ortega Yes

Commissioner Steve Padilla Yes

Commissioner James Weaver Yes

Commissioner Ray Westall Yes

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 Padilla moved to enter back into open session. Seconded by Commissioner Weaver.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carries.

Chairwoman Stevens entertains any motion as a result of the Closed Executive Session.

MOTION: Commissioner Growney motions that the Department Attorney and Commission Attorney pursue any legal avenues that are necessary to support the State of Arizona in their appeal process of the recent Ninth Circuit Court decision in regard to quotas of non-resident hunters. Seconded by Commissioner Westall.

VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. The motion carries.

Meeting adjourned at 4:05 pm

Respectfully Submitted:


Larry G. Bell, Secretary to the Commission

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish


Karen Stevens, Chairwoman

New Mexico State Game Commission