5/16/24 NM State Game Commission Recap

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Hobbs, NM

The meeting began at 9 a.m. with the Commission roll call by Director Michael Sloane. Six Commissioners attended physically: Tirzio Lopez (Vice-Chair), Fernando Clemente, Greg Fulfer, Ed Garcia, Sabina Pack, and Robert Stump; Commissioner Sharon Salazar-Hickey attended virtually. The Commission roll call was followed by self-introductions by staff of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and members of the public. There were approximately 8 members of the public present, as were approximately 10 Department staff. 

After the agenda was approved, the election of a Commission Chair and Vice-Chair followed. Commissioner Stump was nominated; no other nominations were made, and Commissioner Stump was elected. Commissioner Salazar-Hickey was then nominated as Vice-Chair; no other nominations were made, and Commissioner Salazar-Hickey was elected. Commissioner Salazar-Hickey suggested that the new Chair and Vice-Chair should consult with Commissioner Lopez during the transition, given his considerable experience with the commission over the past several years and his leadership over the past two years. The consent agenda (approval of minutes from the past meeting, and approval of three additional nonprofits to receive donated licenses) was approved.

The next item was a discussion led by Chief Steward Liley on the Migratory Game Bird Rule related to proposed amendments, including changes on some season dates responding to public comments and calendar shifts, some modest changes related to bag limits and permits based on population survey data and USFWS requirements, and changes related to handicap accessibility in some areas. Chief Liley further explained the cooperative efforts between state and federal governments and the four regulatory flyways involved in the rule. Those attending had an opportunity to ask questions; no significant concerns were raised.

Chief Liley then opened an initial discussion of the Bighorn Sheep Rule related to tags for Rocky Mountain and Desert bighorn sheep. The first subject was a shift to match the duration of this rule consistently with the four-year schedule on the Rule for other big game; the current rule has been scheduled for only two years, as there had been a possibility of legislative shifts (which did not occur). Content on this rule focused primarily on the definition of the term “hunt code” based largely on a response from the office of the Attorney General to a question raised by State Representative Nathan Small. The opinion of the Attorney General’s office indicated that current procedures of the Department are legal. Three comments regarding the issues involve followed; this was not an action item, and concluded with the comments.

Chief Varela briefly presented the outlines of the proposed Departmental Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. Two comments questioned whether all of the funds involved over the last several years had been distributed as they should be. The Commission then approved the Plan.

There were three general public comments offered. The first comments came from Jesse Deubel (New Mexico Wildlife Federation), and other attender, both raising continued concerns related to the EPlus program, as a result of which New Mexico offers the fewest Elk tags to state residents in the overall draw (about 55%) of any Western state. As noted by the those commenting, no effective strategic response fro the department or commission has yet emerged.

The third general comment was offered by Mark Mattaini (a BHA board member). He began by thanking the Commission for the recent Commission Workshop, in which citizens were encouraged to offer feedback and suggestions to the Commission with hope for better understandings among the Department, Commission, and the public. Mattaini urged further contacts of this kind. He then noted the urgent work being developed and emphasized by the North American BHA challenging the serious currently emerging threats to a century of sound science-based wildlife management, as an issue important to everyone in the room. Those present appeared to regard this as useful work; Mattaini offered to share materials elated to this work with the Department and Commission.

The Commission then began an executive session (closed to the public) related to limited personnel matters – including the Director’s Performance Appraisal.

The meeting was recorded, and will be available online at NMDGF in the near future at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyBFt4kiH6ykgnf_bkwPivWpc4oRgGVei



About Mark Mattaini

Activist Social Worker/Behavioral Systems Scientist; Editor, Behavior Science Perspectives on Culture and Community, Author, Strategic Nonviolent Power: The Science of Satyagraha

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