UPDATED: October 23, 2003
NEW MEXICO STATE GAME COMMISSION
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th Street, NW
Special Events Building
Albuquerque, New Mexico
October 22, 2003
9:00 am 5:00 pm
AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 Meeting Called To Order
The meeting was called to order at 9:20 a.m. by Chairman Arvas
AGENDA ITEM NO. 2 Roll Call
Director Thompson called roll:
Chairman Arvas Present
Commissioner Pino Present
Commissioner Riordan Present
Commissioner Sims Present
Commissioner Henderson Present
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Present
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya Present
Director Thompson stated that a quorum was present.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 3 Introduction of Guests
Chairman Arvas requests that members of the audience (approximately 95) introduce themselves.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 4 Approval of Minutes (August 20, 2003)
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to accept the Minutes of the August 20, 2003 Meeting as presented. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 5 Approval of Agenda
Commissioner Arvas stated that due to the long Agenda and in the interest of time, he basically recognized 4 groups: houndsmen, guides/outfitters, the Sandia Bear Watch folks, and the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation. Commissioner Arvas proposed that the 4 groups meet in the back of the room and select a representative/spokesperson for each individual group and the representative for each individual group would be given up to 15 minutes to make the presentation for the group before the Commission.
Commissioner Henderson moved to accept the Agenda for the October 22, 2003 New Mexico Game Commission Meeting as presented. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Arvas brought the meeting back to order after a 7-minute break.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 6 Consent Agenda
Commissioner Henderson moved to accept the Consent Agenda as presented. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All presented voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 7 Big Game Rule Opened for Consideration and Amendment for Bear Harvest Seasons and Zone Limits.
Presented by Rick Winslow Presented a 2004-2005 bear hunting season rule change proposal and the results of the meetings of the Bear Task Force and the different options that were discussed.
The Department also recommended a 6-Zone Hunt System with total and female harvest limits for the 2004-2005 Black Bear hunting season.
Commissioner Arvas requests that Rick Winslow explain the difference in the theories between zones and quotas in reference to past experiences with cougar hunts. Why is a zone system effective? Why is a quota system effective in terms of management goals.
Rick Winslow states that a zone system allows the Department to model the population in that area based upon the Department’s best knowledge of what the population in that area is and the Department can make the best recommendations based upon the biology of the animal. It allows the Department to look at regions rather than looking at the whole State and looking at the whole population and allows for adaptive management. The quotas/harvest limits essentially represent what the Department feels is best biologically for the animal. What the Department is trying to do is present a system that will allow us to have a sustainable harvest on bears and allow a lot of opportunity for people to go.
Commissioner Arvas asks if this makes the Department more responsible for each zone in terms of knowing exactly what is contained within that individual zone before a harvest limit is arrived at?
Rick Winslow responds that based upon an 8-year study, which provided significant demographic analysis and a population estimator, the Department feels strongly this is representative of what’s best for the population.
Commissioner Arvas as a result of this being a new approach to bear management, is it also true that the Commission has flexibility to make modifications in the future?
Rick Winslow responds that the modeling effort allows more leeway than what has been had in the past. Now the Department can adaptively manage if we see heavy harvests or high numbers of bear depredations in an area, those numbers can be tweaked up and down and the bear model can be utilized to predict what’s going to happen in the long run in those areas.
Commissioner Henderson requested Rick Winslow inform the Commission if the harvest rate between 2002-2003 is less than half. What created that difference?
Rick Wilson responded that 2002 was the first year in a long time that there had been an August hunt, and there was quite a bit of public interest so quite a few people took advantage of it. There was also a spotty acorn crop in a lot of areas of the State so the bears were highly concentrated and very accessible to the hunters.
Commissioner Henderson stated that he appreciated that the Department has made a substantial commitment, both philosophically and financially, to getting better science to make their decisions and an 8-year bear study is not an insignificant contribution from the Department’s point of view. The science is not always perfect but the attempts to do it are there. Could you give the Commission an idea how researchers arrived at an estimate of 5,500/6,000 bears?
Rick Winslow responded that the population estimates basically were calculated from the average over the State of how much habitat an individual bear usesand averaged that out across the State to come up with an estimate based upon the amount of habitat that they found was suitable throughout the State.
Commissioner Henderson asks Rick Winslow that having identified himself as a large-animal carnivore biologist, was he comfortable with the techniques and results?
Rick Winslow affirmed that he was comfortable with the techniques because bears are very difficult to quantify.
Commission Pino states that most hunts are begun with a bow, muzzleloader and rifle. In Units 2, 5 and 6, he has some concerns about the rifle season being before the bow season. Why is the rifle season before the bow season?
Rick Winslow responds that it’s different dealing with bears because they are not as disturbed in this type of situation as deer and elk would be and a lot of times that is how deer and elk seasons are structured. In this case, what is being allowed is to give the opportunity to both the outfitter industry and to the houndsmen and to any other hunters who are interested to get out for a couple of weeks prior to the beginning of the busy season when deer and elk seasons are going on and have the opportunity to harvest a bear when it is felt that the bear pelts are in fairly decent shape.
Commissioner Pino asks whether the habitat of the deer, elk and bear are the same if the bow hunters are out chasing?
Rick Wilson responds that what the Department is finding is that with the exception of the anomaly of 2002, there are not a lot of people out utilizing the resources at that time. There are a few people out bear hunting but for the most part hunters are waiting for elk season.
Commissioner Sims states he has noticed that the Valle Vidal premium elk hunts and the bear hunt are being conducted concurrently.
Rick Winslow responds that only successful elk applicants in Valle Vidal would be able to hunt bear. It would not be open to the general public.
Commissioner Sims also asks if dogs are being allowed in that area and why would that unit not be opened up at a later time for bear hunting?
Rick Winslow responds that dogs are not allowed. He also responds that he is unfortunately not familiar enough with the Valle Vidal management but that is not actually a change from what the Department has currently.
Commissioner Sims asks whether there is an estimated total number for the State as to how many bears the Department has “knocked down” or lost to depredation in the last year or how many this year?
Rick Winslow responds that for last year it’s average along the lines of what it has been over the years--25-30 animals statewide and this year he knows it’s not 20 animals yet.
Commissioner Sims wants to know how many days in the field do the hunters have with this proposal versus days in the field that they had from last year but for this year?
Rick Winslow states that the difference would be half of August in the 3 units where August is an option and the other 2 units where August is an option this year and last year there is no August season. Those are the major differencesthe bulk of the deer and elk archery seasons are concurrenta bow hunter can take a bear if he holds a bear license and then the season would start I believe on the 27th of September and continues through November 15 in the north and November 30 in the south and that’s basically based upon dates that bears den in those areas.
Commissioner Sims asks whether the Department has presently noted significant decreases in number of bears harvested in August of this year versus August of 2000.
Rick Winslow responds in the affirmative and offers reasons that explain that some are based upon more generally available food crop supplies both with prickly pears and acorns and then not as much interest in that it was not a new thing anymore. There were a total of 61 bears harvested from July last year through September of this year on depredation.
Commissioner Sims asks whether that’s a total of tranquilized bears, everything? Total number of what are referred to as “problem bears”?
Rick Winslow responds that that number is total of bears euthanized.
Commissioner Sims states that his only concern with this particular suggestion is that we may be decreasing the amount of time individuals get to spend in the field.
Rick Winslow states that the difference between last year or even 2 to 3 years ago, the August season wasn’t available and the bow season was not open so there’s a lot more time available currently than there was 3 years ago15 additional days in the southern part of the State is being added.
Commissioner J. Montoya states that the materials that the Commission has in their briefing binders and what the audience got in the back of the room are not consistent. Second question is whether the sow quotas change from zone to zone. How was it decided on the particular percentages?
Rick Winslow responds that the Commissioners may have received an earlier iteration of the materials and to ignore that one. There isn’t a percentage of sow quotas actually. The model was used extensively to determine the numbers and the limits were based upon those lines that represent a sustainable harvest.
Director Thompson emphasized that the Department has chosen to present the information recognizing that it is an imperfect science and that there are ranges that were presented. The Department recognizes and accepts that there is some uncertainty but using that variation and illustrating that the Department manages within limits or sideboards, that the Commission is still staying within a reasonably consistent and biologically sensible or reasonable limit. The Department has a working range of about 30-female bear limit and about 70 total bears. This view is important rather than focusing on a single number; the Department is actually presenting a recommendation based on sideboards or ranges.
Jan Hayes Founder of Sandia Mountain Bear Watch commended the Commission and stated that it has been a pleasure working with all the members of the Commission although there has not always been full agreement. Ms. Hayes presented a handout to be incorporated into the permanent record. Their intent is to educate on co-habiting with bear. She speaks on the midst of the predicted, extended drought in New Mexico. Now is the time for management to step in and protect the species as the drought continues. This Commission instructed the Game and Fish to conduct a $2.2 million, 8-year bear field study to estimate and predict trends in New Mexico’s bear population as influenced by hunting, depredation and habitat. The Department’s hunt proposal that has been presented this morning is based on information gleaned from this study which I believe is a very thorough study, great field study and is really pleased the Department is utilizing the study. It’s time to put good conservation in place. On behalf of Sandia Mountain Bear Watch and other individuals who care about the wildlife, urge the Commission to vote to support the Department’s recommendation for future hunts. They also request that the numbers presented not be adjusted. It is also their belief that the 171-sow limit is already 30 sows too high, but they’re not asking the Department to change that and they are willing to compromise on that. There was agreement by all on the zone management because the State varies so much from the north to the south due to differences in rainfall, massive fires, habitat loss such as in the Sandias and Manzanos. The zone management will help keep track of the sowsanything under the ages of 5-6 you should start worrying so by being able to look at the zone and being able to look at the sows, this will give you an idea of what’s happening in that area. There are only 6 zones and fairly clean, concise and will be easily managed. In the past, she’s noticed that Commissions have managed the species with large fluctuations in policy, alloted major decisions with very poor science behind it. They’re asking for continuity, vote to accept the proposed hunt as presented and think about maybe accepting it for the next 3 years with, of course, modifications. There were 5 of the task force against the August huntwe feel thatfirst of all there had not been an August hunt in many years and we could not understand why they would want to hunt bears in the heat. It’s unfair to the animal. There was compromise in that we wanted to give the hunters hunter opportunity and did go along with a partial late-August hunt.
The stats at the back of my presentation are provided by Al Lecount is our bear biologist that we hire so you can see that in 2000 we’re using the 5,500 number that the Department recommended as the population number and the surviving cubsthat means that 14.8% of the whole population is cubs that have survived. That’s a result of the study and you’ll see that the hunt and depredation number under there and then you will see the natural die-off. The study tells us that the natural die-off is 10%. Please look at these figures and tell me what you think.
Richard Becker I’m here representing the hunters, conservations, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation. I would second much of what Jan said earlier and won’t repeat. I would say it was a privilege to work with Winslow and the other members of the Bear Task Force and I would like to thank the Game Commission for requesting that that task force be organized and much of what we’ve heard this morning and will hear after I speak was echoed in our discussions.
While the State Game Commission is considering changing the hunt strategy for next year and adopting what has been recommended by the Department, I think our position is that the State Game Commission needs to take a long-term view of life in all your decisions and that’s why I’m asking you to write down 2020what’s your long-term view of bear management in New Mexico and Dr. Thompson used the term “adaptive management”we think that’s a good philosophy. You certainly have the regulatory authority to use adaptive management based on the changing needs of wildlife populations. So, I think, the conservation groups see this as a strategic opportunity for you to set the groundwork for developing a strategic plan for management of bear. There is already long-term strategy and plans for elk, deer, and turkey so our thinking is that by adapting as conservative approach to bear harvest through the use of zones and quotas represents a sensible strategy for bear management in New Mexico.
John Boretsky Executive Director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. One of our concerns is housekeepingfor me and my constituents the time frame is an ugly time framethere is no other way to put it. Another concern is for every member of the publicthis information was not generally availablethe proposal was not on the website but was available to the public this morning and does not give us a whole lot of time to react to it. I’d like to look at your 25-year average harvest. We’re talking about a harvest that’s going to put us in the vicinity of 350 bears harvested by hunters. As we look across 25 years of harvest, you’ll find that with the exception of a couple of peaks, we fall within that 350-375 and I would like for you to remember when you look at that we have fiddled with the bear seasons all the way through. That includes a time period when we had 90,000 rifle hunters in the field with a bear tag which included deer, bear, and turkey. We still somehow avoided depleting the speciesin fact, we do say that we have somewhere between 5,200 and 6,000 bears. If you use the overall total of the quota and interpret that with the 7% which is killed, we find that that’s based on a population of 4,800 and we used 5,500 in the last task force as a planning figure. If you use 5,000 which is a low number, that’s pretty much average harvest that we’ve had over the last 25 yearswe’ve had some anomalies. If I say that we’re not killing as many as we did this year then something’s wrongif I say that we’re killing as many as we did this year something’s wrong. I don’t know what’s right anymore. If we look at what hunt results are up to this point you’ll find that we’re on track for the 350. We have gone through peak and leveling out again. For my industrya major economic contributor to the State and rural areas in the Stateplease keep that in mind, quotas hurt usthese quotas are a nightmare. You would not believe the paperwork that we have to go through to be able to hunt in the different forests, and there are 5 different national forests in New Mexico. Please do not have the concept that, as some people have had with lions, when a zone fills up they just go to another zone. It’s not that simple. Remember that we market our hunts in January, February, and Marchthat’s our prime marketing period.
We’re working with a population estimate of 5,200-6,000 bears and again reiterate that that’s based on the Bear StudyI agree that the Bear Study is a marvelous piece of studybut we don’t know how many bears we have. One thing that the Bear Task Forcethe second onethat we wanted a stable, huntable population. How big? We didn’t talk about that. What’s a stable, huntable population? How many bears are in a stable, huntable population? We haven’t set goalsI don’t think this is wise and strong management. We’ve talked about continuitythe idea when this last bear season was set for 2003-04 was that it would be run for 3 years and we would see where we were at the end of 3 years. Continuity would say that we go ahead with the regulation as is and see where we come out which gives us 3 years of using 1 regulation but as I say, the history of bears in New Mexico is that it is a species that we love to fiddle with.
I would encourage you to maintain the spirit of what was adopted for 2003-2004 in that we would look at 3 years’ worth of a single way to hunt bears. Maintain it as it is and then evaluate it. Failing that, please go back and review the quotasthe quotas are too low, depredation bear coming out of it are too low and make me wonder that if you capture a bear in the Sandias and move it to Mount Taylor, do you adjust the quota for the 2 different zones or do you only move bears within the zonehow are you going to do that?
Commissioner Henderson asks a question of Mr. BoretskyI think the quota system and the zone system is a wildlife management tool that is designed to give some predictability to management. I can appreciate that you’re frustrated as we are as the Commission that the bear population and the bear seasons have been fiddled with. I think that what we are trying to do is stop fiddling with it. I don’t like seeing a pretty steady harvest rate and then see the last 3-year spikes and I think that we’re trying to come to grips with that. What would happen from a business point of view if we’re going to keep fiddling with it if we don’t figure a way of stabilizing the management?
John Boretsky Business perspectiveif you take the premise that the bear population in New Mexico is not in danger of falling below a viable populationwhat we see has been highly variable season timing over the years. What that has done for usthose moves in all honesty have worked in our favor because they have given us a product that we can sell. When you start moving it back in the other direction as these proposals do, you take away product that we can sell. Taking away our product takes away your product, too. It costs your Department money. Stabilizing something that we know we can market from year to year will help us. October is not a good month for outfitters for bear hunting because our bread and butter are elk and we’re not going to run dogs during elk seasonsome people do, we don’t. The August hunt is goodnot all the animals are rattyspring hunt is betterpelts are in good condition then. The current season, the season we have this year, was a good season for us business wise.
Commissioner Riordan states that when he as a business person heard of this particular proposal, he had concerns that he personally could not see how having a quota system in a unit is going to be able to work business wise. He doesn’t think Mr. Boretsky or his hounds people have presented that to the Commission as well as maybe it needs to be presented. Commissioner Riordan takes a look at numbers and says: 1) well 5-6 years ago we had a low harvestwe either weren’t selling permits as a business, didn’t make them accessible to individuals; or 2) there just weren’t that many bears or looking at what we’ve done the last 3 years is we have a lot more bears out there than what we thought and maybe we’re doing something right on having increases in bear populations and I look at this and I don’t see 25 years of harvest where we originally used to harvest 350 bears on an average per year for the past 25 years I’ve watched the State of New Mexico increase their population by a good 500,000 people over the last 25 years and we’ve decreased the amount of habitat out there for the animals yet it seems we’ve maintained our numbers to 350 with decrease in habitatI mean we have a lot of people here who live in bear habitat right and I just don’t know what to make of any of these numbersit seems like to we haven’t taken some things into account. One other thing I’d like to throw out hereLuke maybe you could tell me or Director Thompsonhow many citations have we given out now in the neighborhood in the east side?
Luke Shelbyfor creating an attractive nuisance?
Luke Shelby3--that’s just happened in the last 2 months.
Commissioner RiordanI think Sandia Mountain Bear Watch is absolutely doing their duty and doing what they’re supposed to be doing on trying to reduce that attractive nuisance out there, but once again getting back to these numbersnothing makes sense to me on these numbers and I keep looking at this and I see increases in population of the State decreases in habitat, our 25-year experience on bear harvest basically hasn’t changed with the exception of the spike in the last 3 years and maybe we shouldn’t have as many bears out there now as we had 25 years ago because we do have a decrease in habitat. Maybe you and your outfitters and the houndsmen need to come back to us on something that makes sense in a business situation because what we are proposing today is going to be extremely difficult to you people. We want it based on good data, and common sense and you just can’t have good biology and no common senseyou’ve got to have both and we need to figure out something here and I’m not sure that this is it, but I think it’s a very good start, and I’m not sure if it needs to be acted upon todayI’m having problems with all of this.
John BoretskyAs far as the quota and the zones, particularly the quota, we have a double quota herewe might be able in 1 zone to harvest 150 bears but only if one-half of them are boars if we harvest 16 sows at the beginning of the season the season’s over. Now again, our problem is that we market these well before the season starts and what we end up having to do is to make refunds and tell people that they can’t come hunting. I am completely dedicated to preserving the resource probably more than most because it is our livelihood but again this is going to be a nightmare for us.
George HobbsI’m with the New Mexico Houndsmen. The bear population is no more important to anybody in this room than us houndsmen. That’s our sport and keeping a healthy population is really crucial to us and that’s all we’re asking but through the proposal that you’ve got this year, I have some bad feelings about that. I was on the task forceI did not agree to zones and quotas at this time. I am not totally against zones and quotas. The problem is the Department doesn’t know how many bear we have and they don’t have the capability right now to get out and see and so they’re trying to work with the Bear Study. The Bear Study did notand at no time was it ever their intent to come up with population. Population estimates in the Bear Study are inaccurate and I think that just by getting out in the field and taking a look at it before we go to making drastic changes so we can come up with decent population models. I think the Department is asking for something that is way too conservative, the Bear Study did give us some good science and the science is what we’re ignoring. The science says that we have 1 of the lowest cub and yearling survivals in the nation and we also know looking at other studies in other states that cub and yearling survival is tied directly to the average age of the populationthe older your average age the lower the cub and yearling survival. Our hunter kill is one of the highest in the nationaverage age of killthat tells us we’ve got old bear and bears like anything elsethe old male that is real old out there he’s smart enough he’s hard to catchhe’s hard to kill. The young bear is the easy one to kill. Looking at the science in this, reducing the old population which is the reason New Mexico Houndsmen ask you for a spring huntApril 1 to May 15this would basically reduce the old male population. When you get out in the woods and look at the track you see your prime habitat is taken up by old male bear80% of the track you’re going to see is males in your prime habitat. The females are forced down into a lot of the seasonal habitatyour piñon, juniper are season habitat. I’ve looked at the model and I don’t have the model and I can’t run it in the computer but if you look at 8,000 foot and above which is prime bear habitat we’re probably looking at a 2,000 bear population for the State and then add 1,000 for lower elevations where you have zones down canyons in areas for bear. We got bear living in piñon, juniper habitat all year round. Most bear will avoid being around houses and people at all cost but some bear lose fear of humans and start coming in. Depredation isproblem bear is costing the Department worlds of money every year and a lot of man-hours in time. I’m requesting that we look at July-August in the summertime and if you hunt bear you maintain that fear for humans and by maintaining that you lessen the problem bear and by reducing the male population in the springwhich in our past spring hunts was 93%-95% maleyou free up a lot of prime habitat for sows and younger bear to move into. The proposal is really against uswe’ve been a big faction in the bear hunting in this State for many years and most of us don’t harvest the bear we buy bear tag to run our dogs. It’s gotten to the point where there are a lot of areas in October where we can’t run out dogs, there are too many elk hunters out there. November there are so many deer hunters and normally by the 1st of November most of the bear have gone to bed anyway. A lot of our members are out-of-state members and they come in August and a lot of out-of-state hunters came in that are not our members but they come in and hunt and if you take away August you’re going to lose a lot of revenue there but these same out-of-state hunters would come in for pursuit season. You would lose very few of them. I think through training season the Department has a revenue for a large amount of income if they just take advantage of it. In September bear are putting on weight for winterthe first three weeks in September they put on most of their fat for winter and by the third week in September most of them start moving back to their den area. I think the bear should have a break from the 1st of September until about the 25th of September. I would like the Commission to take a serious look at the houndsmen proposalApril 1 to May 15 to remove males; July-August for pursuit/training season to give us some time in the woods and then September 25 through November 30.
Larry Caudill I support the Department’s recommendations completely and I think it’s time for a conservation-related approach to bear management and am happy to see that and would like to commend Rick and the Game and Fish Department for that positionwhen you sold 90,000 tags we had at most a 2-week season and that season was the first half of November so to say that we used to have 90,000 bear hunters that’s a bogus number and it’s misleading. Quotas? That’s an administrative inconvenience perhaps but a poor excuse to argue against a quota system. Continuity? Continuity should apply to sound management not poor management and certainly there’s no commitment to uphold bad decisions by the last Commission. Finally, zone management is consistent with how we’re managing all our other big game species with the possible exception of turkey. Business considerationsthe Department doesn’t give refunds on bear licenses. I remind you who fought for the 2-day-lead time for the purchase of that bear license. It was the guides and outfitters. They wanted just a 2-day-lead time before the hunt so the notion that they buy a license way back when they make a deposit months ahead of time that is also misleading because you have lots of flexibility in the timing of the purchase of the license.
Robin BlackstenSpringer, New Mexicoquestioned what the bear population is as to the number of bear that are harvested, the number of them that are tagged or tattooed that goes into the number that you are using as far as what the bear population estimate and then the other thing is the use of dogs. The main purpose of the use of dogs, in my opinion, is that you are able to put a bear in a tree, you can see the size of the bear, you can see the sex of the bear, you are better able to manage what you are doing rather than a random kill during the bow season, those people are able to just go out and they’re able to shoot at a bear and wounding a bearyou have wounded bear that could potentially be harmful to other people as well as to themselves without the use of dogs you can’t do that. Of the total number of bear that you are reporting that are harvested, of those which are tagged and tattooed?
Commissioner Arvas clarifies from her if she’d like for the Department to make a response to that?
Rick Winslow stated there are some tattooed bears out there that were either depredation bears or part of the Bear Study out in the Gila. Otherwise none are tattooed.
Robin Blacksten -- But you’re basing the bear numbers that you’re using though as far as what the State population is based on those numbers.
Rick WinslowNo. The population is based upon the results of the Bear Study which was done in 2 different parts of the Statea northern study and a southern study areathe result in those areas were sort of determined by the territory size, how much area a bear used and that was extrapolated across the available habitat throughout the State.
Bob Ricklefs Philmont Scout Ranch. I haven’t heard a single soul mention bear-human injuries and how quickly we forget. We thankfully made it through this summer without anybody in New Mexico seriously injured or killed by a bear but it hasn’t been that long ago. In my opinion, this proposal is going to allow the bear population to increase in a time of drought. This is allowing us to see this bear population increase which is going to cause more possibility of bear-human interactions.
Commissioner A. Montoya asks Rick Winslow that when a determination is being made on the harvest data, how reliable is that? Does everyone cooperatehow do you gather that harvest data?
Rick Winslow Any hunter who successfully harvests a bear in the State of New Mexico is required by law to contact Game and Fish and have their bear pelt tagged within 5 days of harvest and so it’s as reliable as we can make it by making a law. I am sure a couple slip through but for the most part I believe they’re being tagged.
Commissioner A. Montoya There was a comment earlier that through the modeling we can predict or we can determine what the population is but what we hadn’t discussed or heard anything about what our population goals for the different zones arecan you tell us a little bit about what our goals should be for the population. We just heard someone from the Cimarron area say that we might be increasing numbers at a time when we shouldn’t be,
Rick Winslow As a task force I didn’t feel that it was our job to determine what the population goal for the State is. That would be something that the Commission would need to determine if there were going to be any major changes. I felt that our job was to try and maintain the population as stable as possible.
Commissioner A. Montoya Mr. Chairman, at some time I think not only with bear but with elk and other species, we really need to determine what our management goal is. If we are going to be working with numbers like these, we need to know how many we would like to have in a particular zone or a particular unit not only for bear but for everything else. That helps us make decisions.
Commissioner Arvas Rick, wasn’t that taken into consideration when you set up the harvest limits for each individual zone?
Rick Winslow Essentially, yes. What we were trying to do is just to maintain stable populations among zones.
Commissioner Arvas I understand but I do agree with you that we should do that in the future.
Rick Winslow As a task force I didn’t feel likeand I don’t think most of the task force members felt like it was our decision to determine what the bear population of the State should be.
Commissioner Arvas Well, I think based on the evidence that you received if this request passes, I think you will be able to have even more of an opportunity in the next couple of years to make that choice.
Rick Winslow I think that within a couple of years based upon harvest and what we see, we will have a lot more information and we will be able to make some more informed decisions at a later point.
Commissioner Sims I just wanted to bring up an idea and see how the outfitters and the Sandia Mountain Bear Watch and see how the Bear Watch would do with an August training only, no kill. Then come to the spring with boar only with dogs. How is that going to affect come August and some training when the pelts are bad? How will that affect them if we went to that style of management? In the spring hunt we would only be doing what we didn’t realize at the close for the fall. So, in other words, our quota would actually go over into the spring bear hunt and we would fulfill that and we could actually more than likely be better prepared to meet our quotas in the spring and start with the outfitters.
John Boretsky New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. If we did not have August as a harvest season it would be very good to have a spring hunt with a harvest season boars only. I will say it would be a very marketable hunt and would be something that we would be very pleased to have.
Jan Hayes We’re getting into ethics here and ethically, we would never support a spring hunt. That’s when you’ve got little cubs out on the ground that are 6-7 pounds. I just think it is unnecessary and frankly I think it’s unethical.
John Boretsky In the spring we’re talking boars?
Jan Hayes That’s what I’m talking about. If you’re out there you still got sows. I think it’s unethical and I don’t think it’s a good direction for the State to go in. The other thing you mentioned is the August hunt? You’ve got bears that are under weight already. You’ve got bears that there is nothing out there really for them to eat right now in August and you’re going to run them. You’re going to run them in the heat and Don Jones believes that that creates problem bears. They’re under weight, they’re being run and where are they going to go? They’re going to go to the nearest garbage dump. I just don’t think these are good ideas and I don’t think basically they’re ethical.
George Hobbs I’d be all for a spring hunt and an August training season. The August pursuit is a great time. It would really help keep the bear afraid of people. As far as the bears being in shape, normally a bear when they do into hibernation, they use about 40%-50% of their fat through hibernation. The rest of that fat is used up in the spring. Along about August is when the soft mass is really heavy. Bear lose all their winter fat before they start putting on next year’s fat so this is just part of the process. At that time, a bear is in peak condition. Bear are really in their peak prime conditionit’s hot but the hounds get hot a lot quicker than a bear does. If the bear gets tired he climbs a tree. A lot of times the hounds get so hot they have to quit so it’s really not a hard time on bear.
Commissioner Riordan Basically, getting back to the proposal from the Game and Fish is that we are cutting backand Rick help me on thison the August hunt. So there are only 3 days in August that they’re hunting?
Bill Dunn Ten-day hunt in 3 zones.
Commissioner Riordan Okay, I’ve got August 28 to September 19 and I have August 16 to 20, so basically you’ve only lost 2 weekends in August with this new proposal.
George Hobbs That’s only in the southern part of the State.
Commissioner Riordan What about the northern part of the State?
Bill Dunn You’ve got the northeastRatonwhich has a 10-day hunt and the 2 southern zones have a 10-day hunt in August.
Commissioner Riordan Okay, so what area have you lost?
George Hobbs Northwest part of the State. We’re losing 20 days there or 21 days so we’re looking at 3 weekends in August.
Commissioner Riordan The representative from Sandia Mountain Bear Watch said that the pelts aren’t that good then, correct in August? They’re not as good as they are in the spring?
George Hobbs In the spring is your prime bear. When they come out of hibernation, that’s your prime pelt. Other than that, it’s late in the fall right before they go in but when they come out that’s the best pelt of any time.
Commissioner Riordan My concern once again isI’m trying to do something that’s sound and at the same time not having an economic impact on you and still keeping you in the woods the same amount of time and somehow there’s got to be some balance where we can do that. I think that’s the point of Commissioner Sims’ questions is just if you are out in the woods in April or Mayand I’m not sure when do the bears give birth in the spring?
George Hobbs They give birth along in January.
Commissioner Riordan So if we had something maybe April 15, May 1 to May 15 for a 2-week periodwhat are you thinking, Rick?
Rick Winslow Basically the sows don’t come outthe sows leave their dens in early May. They don’t really leave the area of the den until late Maysows with cubsApril you’re really not running into a situation where there are going to be many sows out on the ground.
Commissioner Riordan Okay. So getting back to that then just trying to find dates that maybe would make sense so maybe from April 1 to April 15 you’re not going to run into any sows with cubs, is that what you’re telling me, Rick.
Rick Winslow Very unlikely.
Commissioner Pino states that there was a committee put together to study this issue. We’ve heard testimony this morning but there is still some disagreement and I am surprised at that disagreement that wasn’t discussed during the committee meetings and that’s where I think it should have been discussed. Everyone had enough time and the sectors were represented and we’re rehashing some of the information they shared within those meetings and the reason that meeting was put together was so that they could study this issue with support from the staff so move that we accept the Department’s recommendation of the proposed 2004-2005 bear season and zone limits as presented by the Department. Commissioner J. Montoya seconded the motion.
Commissioner Arvas called for a roll call vote.
VOTE: Commissioners Henderson, A. Montoya, J. Montoya, and Pino voted in the Affirmative. Commissioners Riordan and Sims voted in the Negative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 8 Big Game Rule 126.96.36.199 NMAC Opened for Consideration and Amendment of Bighorn Season dates for Action and Raffle Licenses
Presented by Reagan Smetak Presentation was on the current rule allowing bighorn raffle hunters and bighorn auction hunters to directly overlap in hunt areas and hunt dates. Effect may create conflict on future auction tag revenue and may place more hunters in certain hunt units than desirable and the Department is recommending option to separate the 2 types of hunters.
Commissioner Arvas requests Reagan Smetak to let the Commission know what an average amount this auction tag brings to the Department so that we can put it into the program.
Reagan Smetak states that this year that particular tag sold in Reno, Nevada, for $130,000. The year before it was $157,500. Just to give you an ideathe raffle ticket sales last year were $50,000, the year before that it was $70,000. Sometimes these raffle winners are willing to sell that particular hunt. The Department is doing a good job of competing with Alberta, Canada. We get some really good bids on these sheep tags and we’d like to split that so that auction hunter has that first choice.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks why it was changedI presume in the last year?
Reagan Smetak states that it was an attempt to make the regulation simpler for the public and there was some consideration into what this could potentially do such as put 2 hunters into the same area. We did not think that the potential for that was very high because of the quality of the sheep we thought we had that they would choose different areas. They simply didn’t do it.
Commissioner Arvas asks what the 2 biggest sheep available were within a 1-mile square area?
Reagan Smetak reiterates that the biggest sheep that New Mexico had to offer was 1 that was sought after very hard by the bidders in Reno. This particular sheep was in Wheeler Peak. The auction hunter wanted him.
Commissioner Arvas states that what the Commission needs to understand is the fact that we’re attempting to make this auction hunt a big revenue producer for the State so that we can put it back into the bighorn sheep program. We’re not trying to show favoritism for a given person, it’s the money that we’re looking for and that needs to be emphasized.
John Boretsky with New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. This is a very good proposal and it will enhance the value of the auction tag. It is something that was done in the past. We need to do this again and I strongly encourage you and it will help the State, the Department, and my industry, too.
Larry Caudill It’s my understanding that there may have been some competition for sheep with the Taos Pueblo this last year? Not that they haven’t the right to hunt the sheep when they are on the Pueblo property, but does this proposal provide sufficient flexibility to deal with that contingency if the sheep the guy wants is not even where it can be hunted other than on tribal land?
Commissioner Arvas states that he thinks there is some confusionwhat Larry is asking is with the way the Department has set the timing in terms of the dates, is that going to interfere with the Pueblo’s hunts at all?
Reagan Smetak states that the Department has talked to the Pueblo and what is before you are dates that do not conflict with Pueblo activities. On the question as to whether that particular sheeplet’s say moves on to the Pueblo’s property I cannot secure access to that. The hunter will have to choose from whatever is available on the public side.
Larry Caudill the question revolves around competition for that particular or a particular sheep which could be not only the rifle hunter but potentially a pay hunter on tribal land and I was just wondering if the proposal as written here provides for a way of dealing with that not for religious activitiesI’m not talking about conflict in that regardI meant competition for a particular sheep.
Commissioner Arvas states that “no”. There’s just no way we can control the activity on the Pueblo property at all.
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya moved to accept the Department’s proposed change that allows the auction hunter first choice of all offered hunts and the raffle hunter to choose from the remaining hunts as presented.
Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 9 Deer Enhancement License Presentation
Presented by Darrel Weybright The Department’s proposal establishes procedures for issuing 2 special deer permits [Big Game Enhancement Rule 19.31.7 NMAC]; and establishes hunting seasons for these 2 special deer permits [Big Game Rule 19.31.8 NMAC]. These permits were made available through 2003 Legislative and Executive action.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to amend Big Game Rule 19.31.8 to establish deer hunting seasons for the special deer permits as described in the Department’s recommendation. Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
Commissioner A. Montoya announces to the Chair that this item has 2 parts to it.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All presented voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
MOTION: Commissioner A Montoya moved to amend the Big Game Enhancement Rule 19.31.7 to establish the Deer Enhancement Program as well as administrative procedures as described in the Department’s recommended language. Commissioner J. Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative, Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Arvas recognizes at this time a representative from the Mule Deer Foundation, Todd Rathner.
Todd Rathner -- Regional Director for the Mule Deer Foundation. I cover New Mexico and Arizona and I thank you all for having the foresight to assist the deer populations in New Mexico by establishing these 2 special enhancement tags. I also wanted to let you know how excited the Farmington Chapter is about being able to administer this raffle. The volunteers asked me to invite you to Farmington in the summer and maybe have 1 of your meetings there in conjunction with their annual banquet so that they can do the drawing for the raffle tag with all of you present. The Mule Deer Foundation has been very active in New Mexico for the past 4 years. We’ve developed a great relationship with folks on the staff and with individual commissioners and we’re very proud of the work we’ve been able to do. We look forward to being able to continue that work. I extend my thanks and the thanks of over 1,000 members of the Mule Deer Foundation in New Mexico.
Lunch break 12: 05 p.m. 1:21 p.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 10 Desert Bighorn Sheep Recovery Plan Presentation
Presented by Darrel Weybright The Department’s presentation to the Commission pertains to the Desert Bighorn Sheep Recovery Plan in accordance with 17-2-40.1, Section G, NMSA 1978. The plan was prepared by the Desert Bighorn Advisory Committee in accordance with provisions set forth in the Wildlife Conservation Act as pertaining to the recovery of State-listed endangered species. The Department will utilize this plan, as amended or approved, as a guide to recover Desert Bighorn Sheep.
Commissioner Arvas Asks where in the process the Department is as far as the whole plan?
Darrel Weybright states this is the last step for approval of the Plan and then the Plan will establish the guidelines for the Department for the next 10 years or so and so then the Department will be putting the Plan with the action plan and the operational plan and putting the schedule of transplants and where we’re going to emphasize actions and activities over the next 10 years in the other plans.
Commission Arvas asks if the Department is ahead of schedule, behind schedule, on schedule?
Darrel Weybright informs the Commission that the Department is a little behind schedule--it was his preference to have been done by last December when the other one expired to have it start at the beginning of this year. We’ve continued on with management despite the recovery plan preparation schedule. The Department has been working toward de-listing the species and just for information we’ve completed the capture at Red Rock of 32 sheep and released them on the Peloncillo Mountains this morning so that’s another successful transplant out at Red Rock and it should be a real boost to that Peloncillo herd.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks why the Department made the decision to put those animals in Peloncillo versus the San Andres.
Darrel Weybright informs the Commission that there are 2 aspects of it: the initial reason was the Peloncillo herd is down to 5-6 ewes, there are maybe 15-20 rams, and so if the Department were to add animalsthe need was to get bighorn out of Red Rock to reduce that herd that’s in Red Rock so that they are more productive when they’re well below the carrying capacity of that facility. If the Department were to put them on the San Andres to get a level approaching the 100 animal number they’d like to see on that mountain, it would leave that Peloncillo herd possibly to go essentially extinct before we would wait another year or 2 to get another group of 30 ewes out of Red Rock. The chance that we would lose the experience of resident sheep on the Peloncillos is always therewe would rather augment population than to establish a new population. The second portion isI think 5 rams died in the San Andres 4 of which we could not determine the cause. The fifth one we were able to get to soon enough that a good necropsy was performed and it was determined that ram had pneumonia. We’ve not had pneumonia in New Mexico herds and that raised a real concern because pneumonia may wipe out a herd very quickly, within days or weeks. Our concern is that maybe we should take a lesson from the past and with our Arizona sheep in the San Andres herd and not put the New Mexico sheep there if pneumonia is possible. That’s the basis for the 2 decisions.
Commissioner J. Montoya In our briefings we have something that says that this plan should provide the public with the information it needs to support and participate in Department programs and we’ve talked how this is more of a reference background document. It doesn’t lay out year to year what we’re going to be doing month to month which arethe very thing you have described to me about choosing the Peloncillo over the San Andresthose are the kinds of questions that I get living in Las Cruces and being in the desert bighorn areas. People want to know in a more rapid manner what the Department is planning to do for the coming year. You’ve said (a) we are going to provide that at some point and the question is when?; or (b) is there a better way to communicate how we manage bighorn to the public?
Darrel Weybright states that he knows there is an answer to the first part and there probably is a better way. These planning guidelines that we work under is exactly thatthe strategic or long-range plans covers that big pictureit provides strategies and develops those issues and provides strategies in a general way and this general information background and then the action plan is drafted up next. What are we really going to go do to meet the long-term goals of our plan, in this case recovery of desert bighorn and that’s followed up by a much more detailed operation plan that has the budget, year, timelines, who’s going to go do it and the priorities of which actions are going to be precedent over the others. I’m expecting to have that operational plan done within the year by next summer. I’d like to have it done it by the June planning timeframe that we do for our fiscal year ’06.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks that for the next 8 months when someone asks me what’s going on in the bighorn sheep program what’s the best response.
Darrel Weybright states that he will provide that information. Would a paragraph or 2 suffice?
Commissioner J. Montoya a page would suffice.
Darrel Weybright --especially if you hit all aspects of it not just the capture transplant program but the recovery plan itself what we had hoped to be able to flesh outnow the Fra Cristobals are an excellent example. They were just on the edge of being a large enough population to transplant from and even to start having conversations with the Armendaris to hunt on that population. Well we’ve got to get this business about de-listing squared away first before that happens but the population was at that level that we considered and needed to move down the road with that. The population lost quite a few members and we don’t know why. That changes our plans. We won’t be looking at that for transplant source in the next couple of years until that population rebuilds.
Commissioner J. Montoya brings up the de-listing and recovery and it’s my understanding that the actual statute that protects the bighorn in New Mexico refers to those animals that used to be on the San Andres that had this native New Mexican blood, these desert bighorn genetics. Now we only have one native animal at San Andres? So technically speaking, are the rest of the animals that have come in from Arizona that are from Red Rock, are they protected? Are they State listed?
Darrel Weybright states that he believes that the way the statute reads is that they are all protected with the exception of the Peloncillo herd. Even though the Peloncillo herd is a mix of San Andres, Mexico, and Arizona sheep.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks that even though the statute makes reference to the native herd there are other things that are extenuatingthe rest of the populations are also listed as endangered. Lastly, there have been some concerns from some advisory team members in the Las Cruces area that there is an area of inconsistency between this plan and the environmental assessment for the San Andres mountain lion management plan. It’s not completely clear and we don’t have to hammer it out today but suggest as a Commission we accept the plan but we recommend that the advisory team meet again and really hammer out the issue there’s a minimum number recommended in our desert bighorn recovery plan “transplants out of the population could ensue as long as a minimum of 50 ewes and 100 animals total remain after the transplant has occurred”and the EA for San Andres is actually referring to when we would implement lion control?
Darrel Weybright or when it would actually end. The wording there is offending mountain lion control would cease once the San Andres population reaches a minimum of 200 animals with at least 100 ewes and so its double what the other number was and this is again as we talkedit’s related predation and the danger of backing off of predator control versus just simply what’s the minimum number to safely transplant out of.
Commission J. Montoya--and since the San Andres Refuge is such an important partner and we need Fish and Wildlife Service every step of the way for this project recommend that we ask our staffs to revisit with them and make sure everyone is happy with the language.
Darrel Weybright We’ve been in touch with Kevin Cobble, the Refuge Manager, and we’ve set up a meeting within the next 2 weeks. I’m not sure that I would necessarily recommend a change in this plan, only maybe more words to explain the position that we have for this. If the Commission approves of this document, I would insert that wording into the document before it is actually printed and published. We will continue to work with the refuge as an important partner in that recovery.
Commissioner Riordan requests Darrel Weybright to clarifywe’re going to be looking at having cougar control anywhere now that we are releasing animals?
Darrel Weybright Most likelywe’re pretty much there now. We have cougar control on the Ladrons, San Andres, and the Peloncillos and we’re trying to get a contractor over in the Hatchet’s. That would be one of the next priority areas. That’s a real tough one because of the issue of snaring versus hounds and that sort of thing. It’s hot, rocky and a place where hounds don’t work very well there so snaring is more effective and so that immediately brings in concerns about the jaguar. We want to evaluate it85% of our radio-collared desert bighorn have been killed by cougars so it’s an important mortality factor that we want to reduce if we want to establish a population.
Commissioner J. Montoyayou mean in the Peloncillos because certainly in the San Andres you’re about to enter into a much more aggressive lion control policy.
Darrel Weybright we have this policy of 5%--if they take 5% of the population, and cougars have been taken within these last 6 months, cougars have killed this third sheep and so we will go back into a daily trapping regime until either for 6 months or through May which is period of the time that we lose most of those bighorn and at that point we’ll back off like we did this last Junewe stopped and went to the offending lion program and so we only had a trapper in there when there was a bighorn sheep killed.
Commissioner Riordan asks have you noticed any increases in deer population since you have been doing management control on the lion in San Andres?
Darrel Weybright I’ve not heard any report on that.
Commissioner Sims I’m looking at the table here and you don’t implement the lion control until 5% of the herd
Darrel Weybright this is how it’s set up in the San Andres. We initiated an initial control before the sheep were released last fall and then continued that for another 5 months, actually it stretched out for 6 months, and then at that point when May or June arrived or the 6 months of trapping every day occurs, then we’ll back off to offending lion only those lions kind of come in spurts but then we go to the 5% piece in this case it was about 3 bighorn that makes up the 5% and that at that point, after 5% have been taken again, we come in with a very aggressive daily program.
Commissioner Sims Now we’re going to implement this lion control release?
Darrel Weybright It has been there in the San Andres since actually last October and in the Peloncillos we’ve been doing it for 3 or 4 years. It’s not been quite the sameit’s not of the snare program like the San Andres. It was a hound program where we have hunters and they are required to either spend a minimum time, days or in the field and they’re checking for signs and any time they see a lion’s tracks they get on him and have taken I believe off the Peloncillos 8 or 9 with hounds.
Commissioner Sims bighorn sheep are pretty expensive to catchthe numbers here in Table 8 we’ve got 56 lions killed, we have 7 legal kills. Are we still having these kinds of lion kills? Are we still snaring lions?
Darrell Weybright We’re having some pretty good lion kills. Yes, we’re snaring lions on the San Andres, on the Fra Cristobals we’re in an offending lion program. On the Ladrons we have a snare program, on the Peloncillos we have the hounds. There’s nothing on the Little Hatchet, Alamo Huecos or Big Hatchets.
Commissioner Sims the houndsis that an effective way in the Peloncillos?
Darrel Weybright No. It has been fairly good particularly in an offending lion situation where you have a carcass to set snares at.
Commissioner Sims -- why do we not snare in the Peloncillos?
Darrel Weybright it would be the same problem with the jaguar. We’re working on that. We’re working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to get an exemption to be able to have that ability to go into the Peloncillos that are a potential range for that jaguar.
Commissioner Arvas -- So you are saying that we’re meeting resistance from Fish & Wildlife Service?
Darrel Weybright It’s not so much resistance. They just have a program in place to address concern about possibly injuring or killing a jaguar.
Commissioner Arvas How many jaguars are there?
Darrel Weybright Well, I’ve only known of 1 and that was seen several years ago.
Commissioner Arvas That’s not a real risk factor there if there’s only one.
Commissioner Sims Do we have a sustainable sheep herd in these places right now?
Darrel Weybright No. That’s what we’re hoping to do. We will continue a very ambitious predator control in the Peloncillos to protect those we’ve released.
Commissioner Arvas I think we need to keep the Commission informed of the progress and the life span of those sheep that we’re going to put into that new transplant because I know you feel the same way, it’s ridiculous for us to be releasing sheep to be harvested by the lion and they’re too hard to come by to start with and if you feel that it’s necessary to do anything more with the Fish & Wildlife Service, maybe we ought to set up another meeting with them and explain our problem to them.
Darrel Weybright Yes, we are actively going down that road to either work with Wildlife Services who are already snaring down in the bootheel for livestock or to have our own exemption for the Department to go in there and snare.
Commissioner Sims Is the Department doing the snaring?
Darrel Weybright We’ve contracted. It would be through our agent.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan moved to approve and adopt the Plan for Recovery of the Desert Bighorn Sheep in New Mexico 2003-2013. Commissioner Sims seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 11 Sandhill Crane Long-range and Operational Plan
Presented by Tim Mitchusson The Department presented the Sandhill Crane Long-range and Operational Plan. The Department plans to utilize this Plan as a guide to manage Sandhill Cranes within the State.
Commissioner Sims what are your plans for the upcoming hunting season and for the next season, especially the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
Tim Mitchusson The Middle Rio Grande Valley because the harvest is regulated by the Central and Pacific Flyway Management Plan and harvest allotment, it varies depending on what our allotment is going to be and there’s a formula that is in those plans and that Plan is being revised next year. New Mexico is in line to chair that sub-committee and revise that Plan, but currently, we’re following the guidelines as already have been developed so, therefore, it probably would be much along the same hunt guidelines that we have now to stay within under their allotment.
Commissioner Sims Without me having to look it up, how many cranes were taken in the Middle Rio Grande Valley last year?
Tim Mitchusson 261, I believe.
Commissioner Sims How many hunters did we have out in the field that had permits?
Tim Mitchusson We had 310.
Commissioner Sims So it’s 0.7 cranes per hunter or whatever it is?
Tim Mitchusson Last year it was pretty low. We had a bunch of new hunters that weren’t familiar with crane hunting so our success was quite a bit lower last year. Also, our participation rate declined last year versus what it had been in the past. I believe changing the bag limit from 3 birds per season down to 2 birds and 1 bird per day affected that but the reasons these hunts were initiated is to control depredation compliance so our plan was to keep hunters out there as long as possible and not see how many cranes could be killed. The main reason was to haze birds off of private property back on to the wildlife management areas and the refuges where we could manage them.
Commissioner Sims But also with that if you want to have hunter success and you do want people to get out in the field and if we had a lower number of participants last year than we have in the years past kind of tells me that maybe we’re not servicing the client.
Tim Mitchusson Yes. We’re the only State that hunts Sandhill Cranes that allows more than 1 bird per season so our hunters have been fortunate in that they can take more than 1 bird and New Mexico was the only State that hunted that populationwe could take 9 birds and hunt for 14 days. But now we are sharing that same resource among 9 other different states so that’s the main reason why our numbers have gone down.
Commission Sims -- We’re not going to settle this here and we’re not going to vote on our seasons or bag limits here, but I just know that since we have changed our Canadian Goose Hunt to allowing 2 birds for the season or 2 birds for the 1 day, then I’ve had a tremendous acceptance by the hunting public who are very happy on that and it gets back to the same philosophy and some time I think we need to address it. It gets back to the same philosophyyou want people in the field. The one other thing that I would like us to look at is these are magnificent birds and I’m not sure that on the public viewing side, especially in our State refuges, that we’re taking advantage of those possibilities especially during non-hunting times. We need to have more. I just think that we need to go ahead and put those platforms in areas where the viewing public can see them and know that they are there and we have to do some kind of marketing to go ahead and get people to go ahead and visit those refuges and look at those.
Tim Mitchusson That is addressed in the long-range plan. Just kind of a reminder as part of the hunt strategies, once we do reach our allotment, we are required by the flyway to close our season so it’s kind of a fine balancing act between providing a number of permits out there and also limiting the harvest so that we don’t exceed that allotment and we had to close it 2 other times before and you get very disgruntled hunters when you do that because their application money is nor refunded.
Commissioner Pino I don’t see too many people excited about this topic as being controversial, so I move that we accept the Sandhill Crane Long-range Plan recommended by the Department.
Lilly Rendt I have a few comments to makefirst of all I’m a member of the American Society of Mammalogy and I have taught at the UniversityI have taught biology classes here in New Mexico and I have a background of wildlife research with U.S. Fish & Wildlife and my husband and I lived on the elk refuge in Jackson, Wyoming, for a number of years. That’s my background.
First of all I would like to say something to your lawyerMr. Brown, there’s one passagein 188.8.131.52 where it states in the hunting regulation that it is permanent and I think that’s a bad word to choose because it is permanent until changed because I talked to some of the biologists here and they said that they do change it and somebody could pick that up and legally hold you to its permanence.
Shawn Brown Yes. I think the Commission does have the authority to.
Lilly Rendt -- I just thought I would bring that up. The next thing I want to ask is Mr. Pino, are you aware that the Pojoaque up near Santa Fe wanted 1 sheep for their religious purposes and they were denied this and I was wondering if there was any follow up on that of any kind but they requested this quite some time ago and you might want to look into that.
On the bear hunts, Mr. Riordan asked why they can’t be done later. Well, the hibernation comes in there, the food supply is very weak and the breeding starts.
Commissioner Riordan My question was why didn’t we do it from April 1 to April 15.
Lilly Rendt April 1, well, there too I think Jan Hayes answered that very adequately but I thought at one point somebody said why can’t it be done later. There are definite cycles in these animals and, therefore, one has to be careful to establish these cycles but I think those questions were answered.
Commissioner Riordan If I could just commentI appreciate what you were saying on that. I do agree that our particular cycles need to look at this, that and the other but I do not think Jan Hayes adequately answered.
Lilly Rendt Another point is that these cycles vary. You can’t predict them sometimes. It depends on environmental circumstances, especially here in New Mexico.
Commissioner Arvas I don’t mean to interrupt you Mrs. Rendt, but I think you probably will be better served if you got your 3 minutes under the public comments because we’re really talking about the cranes now. Jan Moore is it, who opposes hunting of Sandhill Cranes? She left.
Dale Jones I’m Dale Jones from Valencia County. I would think that in a long-range plan for the cranes that private lands could play a tremendous role or a lot larger role than they do right now. It’s mainly depredations where private lands come into effect and I think with the proper incentives there’s a lot that can be done on private lands. I would think that the long-range plan ought to look into what private lands might be able to contribute to the welfare of the Sandhill Crane.
Bill Dunn He has a very good point. I just wanted to alert the Commission that we’ve just put in a proposal for the Landowner Incentive Program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for $1.6 million all of which, if we win that grant, will be dedicated to the eastern plains. You will notice that the crane population has declined on the eastern plains and that’s going to be a focal species so if we score on that grant, there are going to be a lot of landowners we’re going to be contacting to help us out with the conservation efforts.
Commissioner Arvas With that I think we can go ahead and entertain a motion to accept the Sandhill Crane Long-range and Operational Plan as recommended. Commissioner Pino would you make your motion now please.
Commissioner Pino Indicated motion was made previously.
Commissioner Riordan seconded.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 12 Approach to Preparation of Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan
Presented by Bill Graves This presentation provided background information and the anticipated process for development of a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan in compliance with the State Wildlife Grant and Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program requirements. The presentation outlined planning steps and inclusion of citizen participation.
Commissioner J. Montoya So, you’ve told us that the Department has received $800,000 from the federal government to go through this planning process.
Bill Graves -- No. About $822,000 would be the apportionment that would be available under the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program for us to use not just for planning but for other projects under that program.
Commissioner J. Montoya That’s just a 1-year allocation or something else?
Bill Graves So far that’s all that’s been appropriated by the federal government. They’ve not appropriated any more money for that particular program since 2001.
Oscar Simpson President of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. My comments are on the brief summary I’ve been provided with today. I don’t see a tie-in with the Federal Land Management Agencies in order to do these comprehensive plans. If I missed something then the Game Department can direct me but I believe you have some 1991 Memorandums of Understanding that designate that the Game Department and the Federal Land Management Agencies are supposed to be working together to develop plans and figure out how you’re supposed to provide a habitat versus the wildlife.
Bill Graves Partnering and citizen participation are integral parts of this process and we fully expect to partner and cooperate with all the federal agencies that are involved, the Indian tribes, other State agencies, NGO’s, and other citizens who have interests affected by what we’re doing, so, yes, that’s an integral part of it. It’s actually a requirement of the elements and the International Association’s guidelines.
Commissioner Arvas Oscar, along those lines the only thing that I’ve noticed is the last 6-7 months since we started these meetings is in the “old” days, 1986-1994, we always had a representative from the Forest Service, and we always had a representative from the BLM at the meetings and I haven’t seen one yet so I don’t know if that says anything but it’s of concern to me that they’re not here and not seemingly as interested as they were in the old days.
Bill Graves I don’t know from their side of it if there is or not. I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of interest because as I mentioned toward the end, there seems to be significant interest in employing such plans as we’re developing to influence decisions made by those federal agencies so, I expect that they’ll get some guidance and be expected to cooperate with us, but we will pursue them actively.
Andy Dimas Mr. Chairman, you do have a retired BLM biologist. There is a requirement that federal agencies cooperate with the State in things such as the Comprehensive Management Plan but I come before you to stand in support of this planning and I do know from my experience in the federal government that when you talk about planning people’s eyes tend to glaze but just as you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, this plan is very important so I just stand in support of this and would urge the Commission and the Department to dedicate all their resources necessary to this.
Robert Findling I represent the Nature Conservancy of New Mexico and we endorse this planning process. We made an offer to Director Thompson and want to reiterate that the Nature Conservancy has undertaken eco-regional plans for all the eco-regions in both North and South America and many of the Pacific Rim Countries and we’re glad to share that information with the Commission and Department, no strings attached.
Commissioner Arvas What I’d like to see you do is exactly what you’re saying. I’d really like to have you be more active with the Department and the Commission and it seems like there’s a tendency, at least from my observation point, that Nature Conservancy has a tendency to pick and choose and I was kind of hoping you’d be more broad in your thinking where you might be able to participate in some other areas but that’s just a suggestion.
Robert Findling Certainly as any NGO there are limitations to our resources and we have to pick and choose. We have to prioritize where we invest. Having said so, we have a significant investment in these eco-regional plans and we want to make them available.
Director Thompson Re-emphasized the importance of this planning endeavor. We think it’s crucial to the Department and the Commission in moving forward into the future and I particularly want to acknowledge Mr. Findling’s comments. We have discussed their participation and we do think there is a role for them and many others to play in this process. This will allow us to leverage what will realistically be in the order of $1-$5 million so it’s a crucial thing to do.
Richard Becker With the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation. I think it’s imperative that something happen that we get representatives from the federal agencies. These issues and this plan are great but it’s going to take this coordination and it needs to start at the State level and I guess my question to the Chairman is some of us are more than willing to pay personal visits to the State Director of the BLM or the regional forester. What’s it going to take to get somebody here consistently to interact with the Game Commission and the Department and to be able to feed back to their own staff? The other issue I would raise with you is that for years I have been representing the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation on the Rio Puerco Management Committee since 1996 and I’ve heard a lot about the southwest strategy and you may or may not know about that but that’s a plan that has been put together by the 17 federal agencies.
To me there should be somebody from the southwest strategies regularly at these meetings and I would include in this private land owners because they have lots of money that can be used to enhance wildlife habitat on private land and that needs to be part of the planning process over the long haul for comprehensive development for our wildlife.
Commissioner Arvas I know they have been invited. I’m sure Director Thompson has invited them. They interact at his level, but they do not interact at our level and I think our level is fairly important and I can’t give you an answer for that because in the “old” days that wasn’t the case.
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya moved to approve and endorse the conceptual development of the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan as presented by Bill Graves.
Commissioner Riordan seconded.
VOTE: Voice Call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 13 Commission/Department Discussion Santa Ana Pueblo Turkey Transplant and Monitoring
Presented by Larry Kamees The Department’s presentation involved discussion of a request by Santa Ana Pueblo for 30 Merriam turkeys from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to transplant onto Santa Ana property. The transplant would occur in the winter of 2003, and Santa Ana has agreed to monitor the released birds using radio-telemetry to ascertain movement and habitat use. Recently, the Pueblo of Santa Ana approached the Department with an interest of developing a partnership in reintroducing Merriam’s Turkey to the Pueblo of Santa Ana and along the Bosque in the Rio Grande Valley. Mr. Glen Harper is the Range and Wildlife Division Manager for the Department of Natural Resources on the Pueblo of Santa Ana and Dr. Matthew Wonder is the Director for the same department.
Glen Harper The Pueblo Department of Natural Resources was initiated in about 1996 and the goals of the department are to enhance, preserve and protect the natural living environment for the current and future members of the Tribe. Basically, after assessing the condition of the lands on the Pueblo of Santa Ana and talking to the tribal members at the Pueblo of Santa Ana, a recurring question was how come there aren’t any more turkey? Historically, they were on the mesa and they were in the Middle Rio Grande and a lot of the members of the Tribe used turkeys traditionally for spiritual reasons, feathers, for hunting opportunities for meatjust their mere presence is spiritual to them. The problem at the Pueblo is that urbanization from Albuquerque and the surrounding areas is limited or limits the amount of turkey immigration into the Pueblo of Santa Ana.
The goals of the wild turkey introduction are basically release, monitor, and manage a viable population of wild turkey on the Pueblo of Santa Ana for the Pueblo to insure that Pueblo members can practice their traditional practices. Through all this discussion with Tribal members, the Tribal Council unanimously agreed in August 2003, to entertain the idea of developing partnerships with someone like the Department of Game and Fish or the National Wild Turkey Federation to assist in actually making wild turkey reintroduction happen. So, the Tribal Council is committed to reintroducing turkeys and they’re committed to protecting turkeys until they reach a viable population and that at that point they would be interested in limited take only if the Game and Fish Department, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Pueblo of Santa Ana unanimously agree that the turkeys can be taken. What I’m here to ask the Commission today is basically the technical support in the reintroduction of wild turkey to the Pueblo of Santa Ana.
Commissioner Riordan I’m trying to understand why you all are here and the reason is because 1) you’re a sovereign nation and as a sovereign nation, you have the abilities to go ahead and we encourage you to go ahead and manage your own wildlife and I don’t believe there are any restrictions on you going ahead and purchasing turkeys from anywhere and having them released on the Pueblo. I think that if they transport over State lines, you’d have to get a turkey importation permit, but basically you can do as you wish on your property. I mean, it’s a sovereign nation which we absolutely respect; and 2) why would you all want Merriam Turkeys down on the Rio Grande corridor instead of Rio Grande Turkey which are historically the species that travels along that corridor?
Glen Harper We are aware that we could bring turkey in from a neighboring Tribe or out of state. The Pueblo is interested in developing a partnership with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and trying to create partnerships with the Wild Turkey Federation, but we’re looking in-state first instead of going out so basically that’s the answer to the first question. The answer to the second question is Merriam’sI’ve worked with Larry Kamees and he’s come out to the site and Stan Baker and they’re both in agreement that although Rio Grande’s are slowly moving into New Mexico but historically, they probably weren’t along the Middle Rio Grande area and because of the Jemez population having Merriam’s and I guess the Sandia’s having some Merriam’s as well, the idea of introducing Rio Grande’s into this area might affect the genetics of the Merriam’s in the Jemez and in the Sandia’s.
Larry Kamees There’s no record of Merriam’s being native to the Rio Grande Valley other than back in Texas. They are native to the Pecos and in the Canadian coming into New MexicoI mean Rio Grande’s. The Merriam’s are native to the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding mountain areas.
Commissioner Riordan Correct me if I’m wrong, but all the turkey we see up and down the Rio Grande Valley are Rio Grande’s and all the turkey that we’re seeing up in the mountains are your Merriam’s and we’ve had releases all up and down the Rio Grande Valley of the Rio Grande Turkey.
Larry Kamees That was back in the day when they were putting turkey wherever turkey would take and it didn’t matter what kind of turkey they were. Now, what I would like to do and the Department would like to maintain these sub-species separately, that’s why we have people coming into the State so they can hunt Rio Grande’s, Merriam’s and Gould’s eventually, but right now that’s what we have.
Commissioner Riordan I’m just saying that we have Rio Grande’s all up and down this valley, right?
Larry Kamees Yes, there’re quite a few and we do have Merriam’s moving in and out of there, too. That’s true.
Commissioner J. Montoya I just wanted to say that Glen Harper is an old associate of mine and through the years we’ve worked together and I think any project he’s going to be associated with will be very successful and I hope we’ll look favorably on this proposal.
Commissioner Arvas This is just a discussion item, this is not an action item, so there’s no motion required.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 14 General Public Comments (Comments limited to 3 minutes)
Richard Becker President of the Albuquerque Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation. Stan Baker is our regional biologist out of Moab, Utah, and I know that he’s been working with different groups in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah on turkey transplant and I think that the Department should contact him and get some of his recommendations. We’ve been working with Larry Kamees on developing the Turkey Management Action Operations Plan and we’re having a State Turkey Federation Board Meeting on November 22 and I’ve asked Larry to come to our meeting and discuss where he’s at with the operations plan including where turkey transplants should be taking place in New Mexico recognizing we have these 3 sub-species.
Andy Dimas -- What I would like to present to the Commission is a change in thinking in terms of the direction of the Department and the Commission not to consider existing management which focuses on huntable wildlife but to think beyond that. I’ve got 5 points I’d like to make: 1) I urge the Commission in the future to start addressing global warming; 2) I urge the Department to spend more resources looking at non-native species introduction both plants and animals as they affect the environment of this State; 3) I urge the Department to expand their mission beyond game and fish to all species of the State; 4) to change their name to the Department of Wildlife. In conjunction with that I’d like them to consider expanding their funding sources to include the general fund, expand partnerships and other grant opportunities and partnering with volunteer groups; and 5) increase efforts with agencies affecting wildlife and wildlife habitat.
R. L. Posey Representing the Otero County Grazing Board and the Otero County Board of Commissioners. One thing that we are looking at is the management of elk in Game Management Unit 34. It is difficult for some of the members to understand how you can manage elk if you don’t have a good estimation on the number of elk there or the take ratio and we would like to encourage that you take more resources and establish better herd estimates and also in getting the hunt numbers.
Oscar Simpson Representing New Mexico Wildlife Federation. The Comprehensive Management Plan is a great idea, but it looks like that by 2005 you may have something in the working. I would like to see much more earnest discussion and updates at the Commission meetings on how we’re getting the Federal Land Management Agencies involved in dealing with ecosystems and actual planning to deal with habitat and wildlife on a landscape basis. We are in a hell of a drought. The grazing and the drought has combined and has some really detrimental affects so far and I don’t see a lot of cooperation amongst the federal agencies or I’m not aware of it, but I think it would be nice if the federal agencies or somebody from the Commission or the Game Department can get them updated as to how we’re addressing problems.
Commissioner Arvas Mr. Simpson, it wouldn’t hurt if you went and talked to the federal agencies also.
Oscar Simpson I’m starting that process with the Forest Service right now to find out why we don’t even honor the minimal use we have now or what the processes or problems are, so I am exploring that.
Lilly Rendt I really appreciate the new Commission and the dynamics with which they are working. It’s very refreshing and very good. I would like to point out to you that you are doing the same thing that Arizona is doing in incorporating more of the people and the different agencies into your discussions and it’s very needful to do this. I also support the diverse use of volunteer programs to assist with Department activities.
Steve Padilla Up there in the Chama area where we have a lot of turkey available for transplant we have 2 subdivisions up there both of which have contacted me urging the Department to go up there to do transplants. They’ve even volunteered the use of their private lands. I had talked to Bruce about it and they’re waiting for release sites so I urge action on this. Also, I would like to see the Department and the Commission once again post the minutes of the Commission Minutes on the website. What’s been on there has been since July and there’re a lot of people in the outlaying areas that would like to know what’s going on with the Commission.
Commissioner Arvas Director Thompson what happened on the website? What’s our policy1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks before the meeting or what?
Director Thompson We try and get them ready in draft form within 10-14 days after a meeting.
Commissioner Arvas Steve, had you seen them 10-14 days ago?
Steve Padilla As of 2 days ago it was still the July meeting.
Director Thompson Agreed to investigate and get the Minutes posted on a timely schedule.
Bob Nordstrum Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteer. Bill Frye, Ranch Manager with the Double H had to go back to the Ranch to meet some news folks coming in. He wanted to especially thank Marty Frentzel, Mark Birkhauser, Larry and Chris Neary from the Game Department for their support of the Double H Youth Conservation Day we had with 130 kids out there. Especially wants to thank the Department for the loan of the fishing poles and archery equipment.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 15 Closed Executive Session
Commissioner J. Montoya moved to enter into a closed Executive Session pursuant to Section NMSA 10-15-1 (H-2, H-7, and H-8) of the Open Meeting Act in order to discuss limited purposes of personnel matters, litigation and land acquisitions. Commissioner Henderson seconded.
Commissioner A. Montoya The Roll Call vote has been unanimous to go into Executive Session as a result of a Roll Call vote. We’ll recess and go into Executive Session at this time.
Closed Executive Session from 12:48 p.m. to 2:20 pm.
Commissioner Arvas The matters discussed in the Closed Executive Session were limited to items on the Agenda for the Closed Session. No action was taken in Closed Session.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 16 Consideration of Land Management Arrangement at Eagle Nest Lake
Presented by Jim Karp In November, 2002, the Commission entered into a Joint Powers Agreement with the Interstate Stream Commission and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, State Parks Division, including amongst its terms the creation by State Parks of a state park at Eagle Nest Lake. The JPA provided that State Parks would create the park, manage it and be responsible for its costs. Not included in that JPA was a statement as to the form the transfer of the land to State Parks would take, nor the acreage that would be involved in such a transfer. Subsequent discussions with State Parks has determined that the park that they are seeking to create is comprised of some 872 acres which is principally along the west and southerly perimeter of the Lake. There are 3 possible methods of transfer of the propertyby outright deed, by a 99-year lease or by a subsequent Joint Powers Agreement that would virtually cede all control over the property to State Parks for a period of time that would probably be quite extensive in order to justify the amount of money that they would have to put into the creation of the Park.
In those discussions, we have requested and State Parks has agreed, that there would be a minimum of 2 access points to the perimeter of the Lake wherein licensed anglers would have free access to the shoreline for fishing. Those access points would include free parking and there would be toilet facilities, as well as, trash receptacles. Those facilities would be maintained by State Parks but the Department would underwrite the costs of the toilet maintenance and trash which is a cost that we presently cover within our management of Eagle Nest Lake.
An additional provision is that there would be a 200-yard zone on the east end of the Lake that would be jointly administered by State Parks and Game and Fish for purposes of law enforcement. An unresolved issue at this point in time is the existence of some sewage lagoons on the northwest corner of the property maintained by the Village of Eagle Nest. The Department and State Parks are jointly meeting with the Environment Department to determine the extent of the potential problem there and we will work out some arrangement as to jointly seeking any funds that might be required to re-mediate any problems at that point. The Department has determined and recommends a deed, although it is certainly within the purview of the Commission to require either a long-term lease or a joint powers agreement. The Department has determined that there are certain benefits to be derived by virtue of deeding the property outright in terms of relieving the Commission of certain liabilities, other responsibilities and possible adverse affects with respect to Land and Water Conservation Fund matching money that State Parks will be obtaining to construct its improvements at the Park. If the lease or Joint Powers Agreement were to terminate for any reason, the Commission would have the responsibility of maintaining those improvements in perpetuity. The location of the area of the State Park at the west end of the Lake and along the existing State highway renders the impact on habitat minimal in terms of overall utilization by wildlife.
David Simon State Parks Director. Our discussions with Game and Fish Department staff have been extremely positive and very productive over the last few months and I want to commend the Director and his key staff most of whom are here today for that spirit because it’s resulted in an approach that we bilaterally feel is the right thing to do and will result in meeting our mutual objectives for Eagle Nest Lake. It was very good that we established a set of commonly held mutual objectives and the proposal that the Department has put forward to you today is intended to meet those objectives in the smartest, most cost-efficient way that will serve the tax payers of New Mexico. The process has worked and I am extremely pleased by the ongoing improvement and building of our relationship and know that it will continue in Eagle Nest under the arrangement that’s been proposed.
Steve Padilla Mr. Chairman, just one questionhow about boat ramps?
Jim Karp The boat ramp will be improved by State Parks but it will be subject to a use fee.
David Simon The proposal we’ve jointly developed here wouldfirst of all, it’s going to result in multi-million dollar investment of monies available to us at the location closest to the boat ramp. We’re planning some great stuff there including a visitors’ center and education facilities and services for anglers, hunters, and visitors. So, given that we are going to be making that substantial investment directly in that area, we’ve come up with an approach by which visitors to the Park at that location would be required to pay the day-use fee that we normally collect which is currently $4 per car and we think that will be an acceptable way of giving State Parks a little bit of a chance to earn our keep at the Park given the new operational costs but then as Mr. Karp has explained, there will also be ample provision for free angler access to other parts of the Lake.
Commissioner Sims You mentioned the fee for hunters and fishermanyou will actually have part of the Park open for hunting, and waterfowl.
David Simon I believe that’s the case.
Commissioner Pino and Commissioner A. Montoya departed during discussion of this item and were absent the remainder of the meeting.
Commissioner J. Montoya With Director Simon’s reference to our successful bilateral negotiations I would like to suggest that this could be a model for a new roadmap for peace and I move to authorize the Commission to execute appropriate documentation transferring from the Commission to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, State Parks an 872-acre tract comprising a portion of the Commission’s lands at Eagle Nest Lake for the sole purpose of the development thereon of a public state park and recreational area subject to the obligations for the development, operation and maintenance of such park and recreation areas as provided in the Joint Powers Agreement between the Department of Game and Fish and the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and others with respect to the above enumerated uses and purposes for such lands and also that the Commission reserves the right to review or reject this agreement before it is signed.
Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
Commissioner Riordan I worked with David on this initially and David I want to congratulate you all also in putting this together and I know that you had a dictate from the Governor’s Office to try to form a State Park up there at Eagle Nest so I’m real happy that it’s coming to fruition.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 17 Revision of Elk Tag Allocation and Drawing for Valles Caldera National Preserve
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to Table Item #17 due to lack of availability of necessary information. Commissioner J. Montoya seconded motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18 Dedication of Excess Water at Eagle Nest Lake
Presented by Jim Karp Consideration of dedicating and reserving a bulk quantity of water that may from time to time accumulate in Eagle Nest Reservoir (subject to Permit 71) that is in excess of the 48,000-acre feet of water that is presently committed to the use and benefit of other water rights interests under Permit 71 pursuant to deeds and/or contracts, and to other prior to senior rights. The Department is recommending that the Commission execute a document dedicating excess waters in Eagle Nest Lake to specific wildlife uses and excess waters are defined as “those waters in excess of any waters that are presently allocated and dedicated or the property of any other party having an interest in waters in Eagle Nest Lake.” That dedication would be subject to those rights and also subject to the regulations with respect to Eagle Nest Reservoir as may be in effect from time to time. This is not a transfer of water, it is merely a statement of intent on the part of the Commission that any such waters be dedicated to a specific use so that they are available for that use and not available for appropriation by any other party based on a claim that those waters have not been appropriately put to any use.
Commissioner Arvas Any questions from the Commission? Any questions from the audience?
Steve Schmidt I’m an attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There are 2 questions I have1) Can I have a copy of the document that’s attached to the briefing memo which I haven’t seen [document handed to him by Jim Karp]; and 2) the agenda item mentioned the number of 48,000-acre feet as being significant and I wanted to know where that number came from and how it was calculated?
Jim Karp That was calculated as water that is subject to rights under storage contracts and under other contracts providing for water rights in the Lake.
Steve Schmidt Do you happen to know the components of that? Do you have a list of that or something you can provide to me?
Jim Karp It has been provided to you many times before, Steve, but I’ll do it again if you want it.
Steve Schmidt What’s been provided to me? What I’m wondering is what the components of the rights are in the 48,000-acre feet because we, as you know, have been trying to determine what the Game Commission and the Department of Game and Fish are counting as rights in the reservoir and what those amounts are?
Jim Karp It’s comprised of all contract rights under Permit 71 and all storage rights under other contracts.
Steve Schmidt Okay. So, for example, is the right of Agua Fria Enterprises, Inc., one of those components?
Jim Karp I don’t recall. I’d have to check.
Steve Schmidt Is that something that the Commission or the Department can authorize you to provide to me outside of the meeting?
Commissioner Arvas I don’t know, you’ll have to ask our lawyer.
Shawn Brown Can you tell me specifically what it is you want?
Steve Schmidt The 48,000-acre feet, there are a number of contracts for water rights and then for water deliveries and then for storage in the reservoir and we’re trying to figure out how that adds up to 48,000-acre feet.
Shawn Brown What I’m going to ask you to do is put that question in written form and submit it to the Commission per their chairperson with a carbon copy to me as well. I’ll give you a card and we’ll examine the question that way. You can produce that to me as soon as possible, if not then I cannot expedite that.
Steve Schmidt On a similar nature, the last question I have is what is the status of the current Joint Powers Agreement with the Interstate Stream Commission on getting into the lawsuit and how are they going to get into the lawsuit and all that kind of stuff?
Jim Karp Other than the fact that I think this is totally irrelevant to the issue that’s before the Commission, that is a matter that is under discussion with the Commission and at this point in time, it is privileged.
Steve Schmidt It’s been on the agenda for the Commission for the last couple of meetings and that’s why I was just wondering.
Jim Karp I don’t believe it has beennot that issue.
Commissioner Henderson I move to authorize the Commission to execute and cause to be recorded in Colfax County, New Mexico, the Statement of Dedication of Excess Waters for Specific Use that will dedicate to storage for fish, wildlife, and recreational purposes water available from time to time in Eagle Nest Reservoir that is in excess of allocated water within the reservoir, such dedication and storage subject to Permit 71 and such regulations as may be in effect from time to time.
Commissioner J. Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 19 Activities on Commission Owned Properties.
Presented by Lisa Kirkpatrick -- The Department presented this item to the Commission for the purpose of approving the granting of permission to the Radio Communications Bureau of the General Services Department of the State of New Mexico to allow a third party to place a broadband internet transmitter on the existing radio communications tower located on Rabbit Peak outside of Chama. The proponent for this has requested that we bring it before the Commission at this time due to the urgency because of some weather-related factors. The Sargent Wildlife area is located just outside of Chama and at the far south end of that is what they call Rabbit Peak where there are some radio transmitters located. One of those transmitters belongs to the Radio Communications Bureau for the State. To the best of our knowledge, that tower was in place prior to the Commission acquiring that piece of property or at least the easement for it was granted by the previous owners and the Department then continued with allowing that and we believe its actually a reservation in the deed but we haven’t had time to research it that completely. The proponents for this are requesting that they put a broadband internet transmitter on that existing radio tower to allow the community of Chama to get internet service.
What we would be allowing them to do here today was simply to have the easement on to the property to put their transmitter on to that existing tower. They need to continue to work with the Radio Communications Bureau to make sure that they have all of their requirements met and they also need to gain easement to the property from some adjacent landowners. The Department does not have the easement that they’re using to that tower site. There are other tower owners who have it so they’ll have to get the easement to the property and the okay from the Radio Communications Bureau. We are also, at this time, not earning any income on that property from any of these because of that particular case. Leroy Gurule of the Radio Communications Bureau is here if anyone has any questions and Christina McCandless is here from the Regional Development Corporation who is the proponent of the project also and she may like to make a presentation to the Commission.
Christina McCandless Thank you very much for hearing this on short notice and thank you to the Department who has been really helpful on this. It seems like last minute to you but to us we’ve been working on this project for 2 years. I have these handouts which describe the project and what we plan on putting on that tower. Originally, we were going to be on the Northern Rio Arriba Electric Coop Tower, at the last minute they pulled out and the project hinges on having an ability to broadcast in the community from that tower. This is for high-speed internet wireless. It’s a network community broadband network. It represents 2 years of community grassroots effort to build, to fund this, to engineer this. The schedule is to get it up and running before Christmas before the winter and that’s why we are pushing really hard to get this final piece of the project solidified.
Commissioner Arvas Let me give you a little bit of background here so you can see where maybe some of our concerns are. At the last meeting, Lisa gave us a presentation of some dealings we have with individuals in terms of lease arrangements and the Commission at that time, and I think Lisa would agree, wasn’t very happy with the denominations for the leases so where our concern isis there anything the Department or the Commission is going to receive from this at all?
Christina McCandless Two-part answerwe were directed from the Governor to the Radio Communication Division and we have been dealing with them for the past 2 months. We did not find out that we needed to deal with you until a couple of weeks ago. The deal we’re doing with them is they’re charging us $600 a year for that space. As you will see, I believe, on the second to the last exhibit there is a cash flow of the project. This is a non-profit, barely break even, let’s get high-speed internet into the community for economic development reasons type project. It’s not a private sector projectthere’s very little private sector investment. Everyone is doing in-kindwe have over $100,000 in in-kind contributions to the project. So, the $600 a year is the answer to your question and the project has very little cash to make any kind of payment. We have 3 other private landowners who are donating land and space without any kind of compensation for the other 3 towers that we’re putting up, so we were hoping that perhaps the State could help us out in the same way.
Commissioner Arvas So where do you get the funding to put up the tower?
Christina McCandless The Economic Development Administration is helping us and we have some funding from Department of Energy.
Commissioner Arvas So what is the total cost of doing that?
Christina McCandless The cost to install the network and turn it on is roughly $310,000. We then have the Department of Energy to run the network or subsidize the network operation for 1 year. We hope that in a year we will have built the market share enough where we will be close to self-sustaining. We have some various other sources of cash so if that’s low, we can again subsidize the operation until it does become self-sustaining. At the self-sustaining level, it’s still a really squeaky project. We need about $60,000 for operations and that’s about what we’ve got in terms of accumulated cash over a 2-year period to support the project. By then, if our estimates are correct, the project will be sustained by revenues generated from the customers, but there are no profits in this at all.
Commissioner Arvas So, Lisa, just to be sure we all understand, when we purchased the property, we purchased it with a tower on there already.
Lisa Kirkpatrick Mr. Chairman, I’m not sure that the tower itself was there yet. The documentation we have indicates that the previous owner had granted an easement for the tower prior to us acquiring it but we’re not absolutely sure whether the tower had been built or not prior to the time we had acquired it.
Commissioner Riordan What time frame are you looking at? This is a lease, I assume?
Lisa Kirkpatrick Well, it would be basically a sub-lease except that we don’t’ have a current lease with Radio Communications Bureau. The intent is to put it on the existing tower and then transfer all of the facilities to the new tower at the beginning of next year. So, essentially, there would be an easement, if you will, until the time when we establish that agreement with Radio Communications Bureau.
Commissioner Riordan So we’re giving them a right of easement, Mr. Karp?
Jim Karp We would give them a license, we wouldn’t give them an easement. We would give them a license until we determine from Radio Communications whether there is, in fact, a lease agreement. We have nothing in our files.
Commissioner Riordan So we could give them a license that could be revoked at any time and then we could review that and see if there is some revenue that could come back to the Game and Fish? I mean it’s just the business portion.
Christina McCandless In light of our cash flow we would be happy to pay something.
Commissioner Sims The services you’re going to provide for the internet could that be beneficial to our Department in the area with access to that?
Christina McCandless Yes.
Commissioner Sims That might be beneficial to the Department.
Commissioner Riordan Maybe we could work something out.
Christina McCandless Absolutely. In fact, that’s what we are doing with some of the other folks who are donating space. I cannot speak for the internet service providers because there are 2 parts to thisI can’t give away their servicebut I can give away our broadband service.
Commissioner Sims The main thing that concerns me is our liability in that someone up there can get hurt so, any lease, I am assuming will have some kind of indemnity for the Game and Fish Department. Something that indemnifies from any accidents?
Commissioner Arvas So really all we’d be doing today if we take the Department’s recommendation is giving you the license to just proceed with the work before the winter sets in and then in the process of doing that, you and Lisa and the Department would get together and come up with a final lease arrangement or whatever you’d like to call it? Does that sound right?
Lisa Kirkpatrick In accordance with Radio Communications Bureau, as well.
Commissioner Riordan I think what we’d probably want to do, Mr. Chairman, is approve this contingent upon our attorney going ahead and working out a suitable arrangement subject to a written license agreement.
Commissioner Riordan Moved to accept and approve the Radio Communications Bureau of the General Services Division to allow a third party to place a broadband internet transmitter on the existing radio communications tower located on Rabbit Peak and recommended that the Department issue a license per review and work out from the Department’s attorney, Mr. Karp.
Lisa Kirkpatrick That’s fine. Mr. Gurule asked to speak from the Radio Communications Bureau.
Leroy Gurule I’m with the Communications Division of the General Services Department. Just a point of information. Our intent and what we are doing now is designing our tower site, designing the tower and laying out all the plans. The intent is to plan it over the winter and then build a new tower essentially in the spring and part of that, of course, will be a new leasing agreement and kind of clean up all of these documents. Now, when that happens, that old tower will have to come down so the equipment from this venture will have to go to the new tower then they will have more and better access. So there are some timing issues there that we are going to deal with as well.
Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to adjourn. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Meeting Adjourned at 5:23 p.m.
Bruce C. Thompson, Secretary to the Date
New Mexico State Game Commission
Tom Arvas, Chairman Date
New Mexico State Game Commission
Transcribed by: Katie Gonzales
My Documents\Minutes\Minutes 03\Minutes-2 10-22-03