New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, APRIL 2, 2007:

GAME COMMISSION HEARS CONCERNS, IDEAS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLF PROGRAM
LIMITED ANGLING FOR GILA TROUT WILL OPEN JULY 1, 2007
COMMISSION APPROVES RIO GRANDE CUTTHROAT TROUT RESTORATION PROJECT
BEAT THE APRIL 7 DEADLINE RUSH: APPLY EARLY, ONLINE FOR 2007-2008 HUNTS


GAME COMMISSION HEARS CONCERNS, IDEAS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLF PROGRAM

LAS CRUCES -- The New Mexico Game Commission listened to concerns and suggestions from 27 people representing various interests concerning the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program in New Mexico and Arizona during the commission's meeting March 28 in Las Cruces .

Commission Chairman Alfredo Montoya said the two-hour "listening session" was intended to reaffirm the state's participation in the 8-year program directed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and to assure state residents affected by the program that the state is working to find common ground among its supporters and opponents.

Montoya read this statement from Governor Bill Richardson before the session:

"I am reaffirming my support for the effective recovery of Mexican wolves in the Southwest, done in a responsible and sensitive way. Toward that end, I have directed the State Game Commission and the Department of Game and Fish to redouble their efforts to work with all interests to promote healthy wolf populations living in reasonable compatibility with our communities and land stewards in New Mexico . This will take understanding, creativity, tolerance, and mutual respect among all involved. We need your cooperation to find ways for indigenous wildlife species and our ranching communities to coexist. Please work together today to advance those principles and to consider productive next steps."

The Commission took no action concerning the wolf program, but indicated it will continue to closely monitor the program and consider ways to improve it, including more Commission and Department staff contact with citizens in the wolf recovery area.

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LIMITED ANGLING FOR GILA TROUT WILL OPEN JULY 1, 2007

LAS CRUCES -- Limited angling opportunities for Gila trout will open July 1, 2007, in select streams in southwestern New Mexico that have been closed to fishing since 1966, when   the Gila trout was first listed as a federal endangered species. The State Game Commission approved the changes at its March 28 meeting in Las Cruces, based on the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to downlist the Gila trout from endangered to threatened.

The new regulations allow the Department of Game and Fish to open angling opportunities for Gila trout and open select streams that previously have been closed to all fishing. Opportunities and rule changes approved by the Commission include:

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COMMISSION APPROVES RIO GRANDE CUTTHROAT TROUT RESTORATION PROJECT

LAS CRUCES -- This summer, the Department of Game and Fish and several partners will take the first steps in an ambitious 10- to 15-year project to restore pure-strain native Rio Grande cutthroat trout to about 125 miles of streams and 20 lakes in the species' historic range in northern New Mexico .

The State Game Commission approved the initial phases of the Rio Costilla Restoration Project at its meeting March 28 in Las Cruces . The project's goal is to remove non-native trout and replace them with pure-strain Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Removing non-native trout will be accomplished in steps, including increased angling opportunities, electroshocking, salvage bag limits, and treatment with short-lived chemicals if necessary.

Work on Comanche Creek and its feeder streams is scheduled for summer and fall of 2007. Restoration partners include the Department of Game and Fish, the New Mexico Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service and private landowners adjacent to the Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest .  

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BEAT THE APRIL 7 DEADLINE RUSH: APPLY EARLY, ONLINE FOR 2007-2008 HUNTS

SANTA FE -- The April 7 deadline for hunters to apply for public-land deer, elk, antelope, ibex, javelina and bighorn sheep hunting opportunities is rapidly approaching, and hunters are encouraged to apply early and online to avoid the last-minute rush.

The deadline is midnight Saturday, April 7, for online applications to be received, or for paper applications to be postmarked. Department of Game and Fish offices will be open during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. No telephone or walk-in assistance will be available Saturday.

The Department is expecting to receive more than 150,000 applications for about 50,000 available licenses and permits. About half of all the applications will come in the last week, and about 80 percent will be online through the Department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us . Licenses, permits, stamps and validations that are sold over-the-counter at license vendors and Department offices also are available on the Department website.

All applicants who were licensed to hunt deer or elk, or to hunt or trap furbearers in the 2006-2007 seasons must have completed a harvest report to be eligible for the upcoming drawing. Hunters and trappers who did not report by the deadlines -- Feb. 15 for deer and elk hunters, March 31 for furbearer hunters and trappers -- can still participate in the 2007-2008 drawings if they complete their harvest survey and pay an $8 late fee before applying. Hunters who fail to report their 2006-02007 harvest results -- successful or not -- will have their 2007-2008 applications rejected. Harvest reports can be submitted through the Department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us , or by calling toll-free (888) 248-6866.     

The Department plans to have extra staff available at offices in Santa Fe , Albuquerque , Raton, Roswell and Las Cruces on Friday, April 5, to assist last-minute applicants. The drawing will take place in June, and results will be available in late June on the Department website or in person at any Department office.

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