EPLUS Program

The EPLUS program was created in recognition of the important benefits that private lands make to the elk populations and hunting opportunities in New Mexico. The program gives hunters and landowners a way to work together to effectively manage and hunt elk on private lands.

Through EPLUS the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish distributes a portion of the State’s elk hunting opportunity to qualifying private landowners. Landowners receive private-land elk authorizations from the Department which can be used by hunters to buy private-land elk licenses.

The Elk Private Lands Use System is authorized and regulated by:
* Chapter 17 – Game and Fish and Outdoor Recreation: 17-1-14, 17-1-26, and 17-3-14.1 NMSA 1978.
* Title 19 – Natural Resources and Wildlife: 19.30.5 NMAC

How It Works

The state is divided into three different elk management zones:

  • Primary Zone: where elk management is focused and private-land elk authorizations are issued to landowners through an acreage-based formula.
  • Special Zone: where private-land elk authorizations are issued to private landowners by the department on a ranch-by-ranch basis.
  • Secondary Zone: where no specific elk management goals are set and licenses are available over-the-counter for private land in unlimited number.

The Department issues private-land elk authorizations to eligible landowners in the Primary and Special Zones through the EPLUS program. These authorizations can be bartered, sold, or traded to hunters. An authorization is then used by hunters to buy a private-land elk license.

Private-land elk licenses in the Secondary Zone are unlimited and available over-the-counter by means of a Ranch Code received from a landowner who is registered through the EPLUS program.

A Map of the elk management zones is available on this page, see the Mgmt Zone Map tab above.

Contact Information

After reading the information on these tabs you may obtain more information about EPLUS from Department staff at the appropriate office listed below.

Regional Wildlife Biologist or Private-Land Specialist staff

Northwest Office
7816 Alamo Rd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
(505) 222-4700
 

Southwest Office
2715 Northrise Drive, Las Cruces, NM 88011
(575) 532-2100

Northeast Office
(P.O. Box 1145, Raton N.M. 87740)
215 York Canyon Road, Raton, NM 87740
(575) 445-2311

Southeast Office
1615 West College Boulevard, Roswell, NM 88201
(575) 624-6135

EPLUS Manager – DGF-EPLUS@state.nm.us
(PO Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504)
Main Office: 1 Wildlife Way, Santa Fe, NM 87507
(505) 476-8033

Introduction

New Mexico abounds with hunting opportunities including the pursuit of elk. Hunters can either apply for elk hunting opportunities through the public draw, or obtain elk hunting opportunities from private landowners via the EPLUS program.

The Department issues private-land elk authorizations to eligible landowners in the Primary and Special Zones through the EPLUS program. These authorizations can be bartered, sold, or traded to hunters. An authorization is then used by hunters to buy a private-land elk license.

Authorizations for the Primary Zone are typically available by late May, and by mid-June for the Special Zone.

Private-land elk licenses in the Secondary Zone are unlimited and available over-the-counter by means of a Ranch Code received from a landowner who is registered through the EPLUS program.

Over-the-counter private-land elk licenses in the Secondary Zone go on sale July 1 each year.

A map of the elk management zones can be found on the Mgmt Zone Map tab above. Basic information for obtaining a private-land authorization or license can be found below.

Hunter Basics

Primary and Special Zone private-land elk authorizations may be obtained directly from landowners who have been issued them for the current hunting season. Hunters may use the EPLUS landowner lists (links below) to find landowners who have been issued authorizations. These lists are normally posted each year in June.

The Department does not publish a list of ranches in the Secondary Zone that have Ranch Codes. Hunters must search out participating landowners on their own in the Secondary Zone to obtain Ranch Codes.

An elk authorization is not an elk license. Hunters must convert the authorization into the appropriate elk license which can be done online or at any license vendor location.

Any arrangements between hunters and landowners for elk authorizations or hunting leases are a private matter. The Department of Game and Fish is not a party to these communications, will not act as a go-between, and is not responsible for resolving disputes.

A unit-wide authorization allows a hunter to buy a unit-wide private-land elk license. Unit-wide hunters are allowed to hunt legally accessible public lands, unit-wide private ranches and other private property with written permission within the same Game Management Unit (GMU). This option is only available in the Primary Zone.

A ranch-only authorization in the Primary Zone allows a hunter to buy a ranch-only private-land elk license. Ranch-only hunters are restricted to the private land within the boundaries of the ranch.

Ranch-only exceptions: In the Secondary Zone, Special Zone, and in GMUs 4 and 5A, ranch-only hunters are allowed to hunt on other private lands within the same Zone and GMU with written permission from the landowner.

No public lands may be hunted using a ranch-only private-land elk license.

To purchase a private-land elk license for the Primary Zone or Special Zone a hunter will need to have an authorization number and hunt code from a landowner participating in the EPLUS program.

To purchase a private-land elk license for the Secondary Zone a hunter will need to have a Ranch Code from a landowner who has registered their property with the department.

Private-land elk licenses may be purchased at NMDGF offices, license vendors, online or by telephone. Online and telephone purchases must be made at least 14 days prior to hunt start date to allow time for mailing. For assistance with this process please telephone: 1-888-248-6866.

Hunters may not hold both a private-land elk license and a public-draw elk license in the same license year, and may not exchange a public-draw license for a private-land license.

For additional information and instructions about buying a private-land elk license, you may visit the Licenses and Permits section of this website or consult the current New Mexico Rules & Info booklet.

Private-land Elk License Fees

License Type Resident Nonresident
Antlerless $69 $347
Mature-Bull or Either-Sex $99  $557
Quality Antlerless $69 $782
Quality Mature-Bull or Either-Sex $99  $782
Junior/Senior Elk License $67 Not Issued

Harvest Reporting

Harvest reporting is mandatory for all licensed elk hunters. The deadline to file a harvest report for an elk license is February 15th. Harvest reports filed after this deadline will be subject to an $8 late fee. Licensed elk hunters who do not report will be ineligible the following year for all special entry hunt applications, population management authorizations, and private-land authorizations.

 

The Department has created an interactive unit-wide map to help elk hunters locate active unit-wide ranches in each GMU for the current license year. The unit-wide map is updated each year in early August. For more information see the Unit-Wide Map tab above.

Population Summary

To learn more about the elk population in New Mexico click the link below to access the latest report from our elk biologist: 2021 New Mexico Elk Hunting Prospects & Population Summary

Harvest Reporting

Harvest reporting is mandatory for all licensed elk hunters. The deadline to file a harvest report for an elk license is February 15th. Harvest reports filed after this deadline will be subject to an $8 late fee. Licensed elk hunters who do not report will be ineligible the following year for all special entry hunt applications, population management authorizations, and private-land authorizations.

Introduction

The Department of Game and Fish recognizes the contributions landowners make to elk management in New Mexico by issuing a portion of the state’s elk hunting opportunities to qualifying private landowners. This is accomplished through the EPLUS program.

The EPLUS program determines how private-land elk authorizations are distributed depending on which elk management zone the property is in. Landowners wishing to participate in the EPLUS program must fill out the correct application and adhere to any related application deadlines. Properties which qualify for the EPLUS program and receive private-land elk authorizations may use, sell, barter or trade the elk authorizations to hunters. An elk authorization is then used by the hunter to purchase a private-land elk license.

Basic information about the application process for each elk management zone can be found below.

Photo: Travis Zaffarano.

Landowner Basics

The state is divided into three elk management zones. The application and qualifications will differ for landowners depending upon which management zone their ranch is located.

Landowners should first locate which elk management zone their property is in before applying for the EPLUS program. A map of the elk management zones is available on the tabs above.

For lands that are inside the boundaries of the Primary Management Zone (Primary Zone), the number and type of private-land elk authorizations available to landowners is limited and controlled through regulation. Elk authorizations are issued to landowners through an acre-based allocation system set in rule.

The Primary Zone application period runs from September through January 5 each year.

Properties in the Primary Zone must qualify according to the Commission approved participation guidelines. Properties must exhibit regular elk use and are further evaluated on different habitat characteristics. Evaluations will be done by a committee consisting of local biologists and conservation officers. The application review process is normally finished by the end of May.

If the Department determines that a property does not qualify to participate in the program, the landowner will be notified. Non-qualifying landowners have the right to request a review of the Department’s decision.

Qualifying ranches will be included in the authorization allocation process for the license year in which they applied. Authorizations in the Primary Zone are typically issued in late May.

All participating ranches enrolled in the Primary Zone will automatically receive an Annual Agreement in December to continue participation in the program.

EPLUS 2022-23 Initial Application and Agreement Primary Zone

Primary Zone EPLUS Participation Guidelines

The Special Management Zone (Special Zone) is an area within the state where no specific elk management goals are set however some control of the licenses is desirable due to the importance of these local herds and their proximity to the Primary Management Zone elk herds. Elk authorizations issued in the Special Zone are a negotiation between the landowner and Department staff located in the Raton office (575) 445-2311.

There is no set application period or deadline to submit applications for the Special Zone however applications received after June are not guaranteed to be processed prior to the start of the elk hunting season. The Department begins processing Special Zone applications in June in the order they are received.

To participate in the Special Zone the elk use only has to be “occasional” and there are no further qualification requirements. The Special Zone includes all of GMUs 46 and 55A, and GMU 54 west of State Road 199.

Accepted ranches will need to contact the Raton office to negotiate the number and type of authorizations for the ranch.

All participating ranches enrolled in the Special Zone will automatically receive an Annual Agreement in April to continue participation in the program.

EPLUS 2022-23 Initial Application and Agreement Special Zone

The Secondary Management Zone (Secondary Zone) is that area within the state where no specific elk management goals are set and licenses are available over-the-counter to hunters who possess a Ranch Code from a landowner who is registered with the department. Hunters must also have written permission from the landowner issuing the Ranch Code for a private-land elk license to be valid.

Landowners in the Secondary Zone will first need to create a Customer Account through the Department’s Online Licensing System and obtain a Customer Identification Number (CIN) at: https://onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us. The CIN is required in the application and allows the Department to link your Ranch to your Online Account where your Secondary Management Zone Ranch Code can be accessed.

The Online Licensing System/Customer Account is the same account where hunters, trappers and anglers purchase licenses and apply for the draw. If a landowner already has a Customer Account/CIN, there is no need to create another one.

After creating a customer account, landowners in the Secondary Zone will be required to complete the Secondary Management Zone Ranch Code Application and, after department approval, a Ranch Code will be assigned to the ranch in the Online Licensing System. There is no set application period or deadline to submit applications for the Secondary Zone.

Ranch codes will only be issued to properties or portions of properties that lie within the Secondary Zone. An accurate, legible ranch map must be supplied with your application.

All licenses in the Secondary Zone are ranch-only and transferrable to other private lands in the Secondary Zone and within the same GMU with written landowner permission.

Landowners will need to renew their Ranch Code in the Online Licensing System each license year.

Secondary Management Zone licenses are not valid on any public land or on any private land in the Primary or Special Management Zone.

EPLUS 2022-23 Initial Application and Agreement Secondary Zone

Written Permission to Hunt Private-Land Form

Other EPLUS Landowner Forms

EPLUS Assignment of Authorized Ranch Contact Form (Updated 9-10-2021)

EPLUS Change of Address

EPLUS Inactivate Account Form

EPLUS Online Registration Form

EPLUS Personal Information Update Form

EPLUS Landowner List PMZ (Updated 10-15-2021)

EPLUS Landowner List SPZ (Updated 10-15-2021)

EPLUS 2022 -2023 Habitat Incentive Application

Elk Management Zone Map

Primary Management Zone – These are areas of the state where elk license numbers are set by the commission, harvest objectives are determined, and the distribution of public elk licenses and private-land authorizations is strictly regulated and distributed through an acre-based formula.

Special Management Zone (GMU 46, 54 west of NM State Road 199 and 55A) – These areas are in quality elk habitat areas, but the majority of land is owned by private entities. Private-land authorizations on these ranches are allocated through a negotiation between the department and the ranch managers.

Secondary Management Zone – These areas are outside the Primary and Special Management Zones where no specific management goals are set. In these areas, private-land licenses are available over-the-counter; however, individuals must have a Ranch Code to purchase a license. In addition, hunters must obtain written permission from the landowner.

Interactive Map

The interactive map (below) is designed to help hunters and landowners find Elk Management Zones. Click on Units to display a pop-up window of information and clickable links.

If  borders or tools are missing click to reload map or view mobile map in a new browser window. (Supported browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Safari 3+, Internet Explorer 8+).

Click to reload map above if  borders or tools are missing, or view mobile map in a new browser window. Print/PDF available at any zoom level.

Unit-Wide Map

Private ranches enrolled in the EPLUS program as unit-wide provide additional elk hunting opportunities across the state.

Landowners who selected the unit-wide hunting option on their EPLUS agreement and received a unit-wide authorization(s) for the current license year agree to allow public elk hunting access on their private ranch. Hunters who possess a public draw elk license or a private-land unit-wide elk license may access these private unit-wide ranches, any legally accessible public lands, and other private land with written permission within the same GMU.

Unit-Wide Rules

• Unit-wide private ranches are open during each public elk hunt for the sole purpose of hunting elk.
• They are not open during any other time of year or for any other purpose.
• Hunters are allowed free access to the entire unit-wide ranch during their licensed hunt dates, including scouting up to two days immediately preceding the start of their hunt.
• Landowners and their employees may not interfere with elk hunters while on the ranch and elk hunters are not required to notify landowners or their employees before entering the ranch.
• Vehicular access may be restricted on the ranch however; it must be equally restricted to all elk hunters, including hunters holding a license purchased with authorizations issued to the ranch.
• No elk hunter, including hunters holding a license purchased with authorizations issued to this ranch, may drive off-road on a unit-wide ranch except to retrieve legally harvested elk with separate permission from the landowner.
• Unit-wide ranches are not open for camping.

Interactive Map

The interactive map (below) is designed to help hunters and landowners find unit-wide ranches. Ranch boundaries are the department’s best interpretation of the ranch based on property information received from and verified by the landowner.

The map is taken down in March each year and will be published again in early August before the start of the next hunting season. Unit-wide ranches are subject to change from year to year.

Click to reload map above if borders or tools are missing, or view mobile map in a new browser window.