Friday July 21, 2023
Attending in-person: Commissioners Tirzio Lopez (Vice Chair), Sharon Salazar-Hickey, Fernando Clemente
Attending Virtually: Commissioner Greg Fulfer
Not present: Commissioner Ed Garcia
All Commissioners present including on video were active in the discussions, including Commissioner Clemente in this, his second meeting; he assisted in clarifying details in staff presentations.
The meeting began shortly after 9 a.m. with a Commissioner roll call, followed by self-introductions of each person attending. There were about a dozen members of the public, and about the same number of NMDFG staff. Minutes of the April 28, 2023 meeting were approved without change, and the approval of revocations were approved with one change (increasing a recommended 3 year penalty to 5 years) determined by the Commissioners.
The agenda then moved to General Public Comments. Items began, as has been common recently, with one expression of concern about the stream access policy and how trespassing, enforcement was not being adequately enforced or clarified to the public. Another speaker, who was previously employed by the NMDFG, was also concerned that the access and trespassing policies were not being adequately clarified within the department, or for the public. NMWF Calls on Game Department Director to Show Leadership on Stream Access Issue
One comment asked that the E-Plus system be maintained, despite recent suggestions otherwise.
The remaining six public comments related to the proposed changes on bear and cougar rules, including one by a representative of the Sierra Club. All opposed proposed increases or maintaining the current rules, requesting either reductions or eliminations. There was some variation in the comments, including outlawing use of dogs, discontinuing all bear and cougar hunting as they are not consistent with contemporary shared community values, opposition to trophy hunting of any kind, and a call for respecting those animals (and all others) as a part of nature, whose numbers should not be artificially reduced or limited. A further comment suggested that based on what is known and not yet clarified about climate change, the number of tags should at least be reduced; another indicated that the NMDFG was not collecting enough data to justify the current rule or any harvesting. Four additional citizens entered the room at approximately noon, asking to comment on the proposed changes in bear and cougar rules, indicating disapproval of such hunting. As the public comment period had been completed about an hour and a half earlier, they were not allowed to speak, but were instructed about other ways to contact the NMDFG, and were encouraged to attend the meeting in Raton, where this will be a large part of the agenda. Vice Chair Lopez presented this in a very respectful way, and the four were quite respectful in turn. Clearly this is going to be a hot issue for the next few weeks.
The Commission went into executive session for nearly two hours, dealing with 3 purchase, acquisition, and disposal cases, and with 4 litigation issues. Of these, decisions related to items 1 & 2 of the first, and item 2 of the second set of cases were approved. (Subjects listed below)
The agenda shifted a hearing on the Migratory Bird Rule; that was approved. The final item was a discussion of the furbearer rule, beginning with a presentation by Stewart Liley. The reported takes on trapping in some cases have declined, but NMDFG staff indicate that those drops almost certainly are related to the closure of trapping in private lands. Overall recent data indicate that all populations are either stable of increasing; none are in decline. The two most harvested (Bobcats and Gray Foxes) have been particularly closely followed, and are quite healthy. Commissioner Clemente was very engaged with staff to further explore the data. The recommendation that the NMDFG is proposing for decision at a later meeting is to change the rule to permanent status, meaning that it will note need to be reopened every four years. It is important to clarify that this does not mean that the NMDFG or the Commission cannot decide to open the rule for changes if they see a need; also that the staff of the NMDFG will regularly report data results to the Commission.
At that point, the Vice Chair adjourned the meeting.
Posted by Mark Mattaini, reviewed by Charles Tripp
Approvals of Executive Session Items:
A1: Santa Fe, disposition of Richard Avenue Property
A2: Bartlett Mesa Property
B2: Bert Clancy Wildlife Management Area, San Miguel County