Recently, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has come under fire from several special interest groups that allege mismanagement of the states wildlife resources. These accusations come on the heels of a voracious statewide drought, an increase in the population of predators that has resulted in the need for aggressive predator management to sustain prey populations and a couple of private personnel issues within the department.
All of the negative press has not only shrouded the department in a negative light, but also the hunting community as a whole.
It seemed like the right time to come to the defense of the entire industry by pointing out some of the immensely positive things that sportsmen and Game and Fish have done together in the interest of wildlife conservation in our state.
Although some may disagree, hunting is conservation. The Department of Game and Fish spends over $32 million per year on wildlife management in the state of New Mexico and $20 million of that comes directly from license sales to sportsmen.
That means that men, women and children who purchase a license to hunt game and/or fish in New Mexico waters provide the primary source of funding to Game and Fish each year. Not to mention the 11 percent federal excise tax that all sportsman pay on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment, which also goes directly towards wildlife conservation.
The Department of Game and Fish is well respected among other state wildlife agencies. New Mexico is often credited with having one of the best, if not the best, bighorn sheep program in the United States.
All of our game herds are recognized as having strong genetics, and our deer and elk consistently excel in size and quality.
In fact, New Mexico recently traded the Arizona Game and Fish Department 43 of our pronghorn antelope to help them rebuild their herds. In return, we received a flock of 60 Gould’s turkey to add to our current population, which is endangered but has been re-established through conservation efforts courtesy of sportsmen dollars.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is one of the only state wildlife agencies that employs a biologist for each managed big game species. This structure allows for the department to ensure that the most accurate scientific information is utilized to manage each species according to its individual needs.
In addition to managing herd quantity, quality and predator prey dynamics through hunting, the department also conducts annual conservation projects through its habitat stamp program.
A quick Google search on “NMDGF projects” results in everything from hauling water to wildlife in our drought conditions, to habitat restoration at Elk Springs near Cuba, to wetlands restoration at Blue Lake near Ruidoso, to fish restoration in Capulin Canyon – and that’s just in 2013.
While incorrect claims, such as the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is “eliminating” bear populations, and erroneous statements like “hunters are the state’s most violent group of people” will no doubt continue to be made by a handful of individuals, but you can rest assured that conservation of New Mexico’s wildlife will continue to be managed by the capable hands of the good people at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and funded by sportsmen.