Thursday, October 12, 2006

NM: Cougar, other big-game hunting rules change

Commission approves new rules

Ruidoso News
Article Launched: 10/10/2006 04:33:27 PM MDT

TUCUMCARI - The New Mexico Game Commission has approved new rules for the 2007-09 big-game hunting seasons that set hunt dates, bag limits and opportunities according to the most current data on wildlife populations, distribution, habitat, and management objectives.

The new rules, adopted during the Commission meeting Sept. 29 in Tucumcari, apply to the 2007-08 and the 2008-09 hunting seasons.

They provide for public and private land elk hunts, cougar hunting, and furbearer hunting and trapping rules based on new population and habitat assessments.

"Recreational hunting and fishing contribute more than $1 billion a year to our state's economy," said Governor Bill Richardson, an avid hunter. "I'm confident that these sensible hunting rules - based on the most current research and input from thousands of citizens - will help promote recreation and protect wildlife for years to come."

The Game Commission sets hunting and trapping rules every two years for deer, elk, antelope, oryx, bear, ibex, bighorn sheep, barbary sheep, javelina, turkey, cougar, and furbearers.

The process included months of public meetings and assessments of thousands of public comments and recommendations by telephone, regular mail, and e-mail.

"This was one of our most intensive efforts to involve the public in our rule-making process," Commission chairman Leo Sims said. "More than 2,300 people called or e-mailed their comments and hundreds more had their say about the rules at more than 11 public meetings around the state."

Some highlights of the Department of Game and Fish 2007-09 big-game hunting rules:


Elk

Seasons, numbers of licenses and bag limits on public and private lands were adjusted based on management goals and sustainable harvest objectives for the various elk populations in the state.

These adjustments will provide significant hunting opportunities while sustaining the wildlife resource.

Overall, the number of public and private elk licenses available each season was slightly reduced while the numbers of licenses for youth and mobility impaired hunters increased.


Cougar

Development of a Cougar Population Assessment and Harvest Management Matrix led to the establishment of a Total Sustainable Mortality for each cougar zone in the state.

The proportion of the Total Sustainable Mortality allotted to sport harvest was increased in some zones while decreased in others.

Hunters are now required to call a toll-free number or visit a Department of Game and Fish office or the Department Web site, www.wildlife.state.nm.us, to determine whether cougar hunting is open in the zone they plan to hunt in.

Deer

Overall public permit numbers adjusted to improve the distribution of hunting opportunities based on demand and harvest objectives.

Bag limit changed to one forked-antlered deer statewide.

Added a special white-tailed deer season in northeastern New Mexico.

Added eight new youth-only hunts and six hunts for mobility-impaired hunters; and increased bow-hunting permits in Units 2A and 2B.

Bighorn sheep

Provides for 22 licenses, including two new licenses in the Latir Wilderness, two new licenses in the Wheeler Peak area, one new license on the Pecos Wilderness, and continued hunts in the Peloncillo Mountains and Turkey Creek.

Eliminated hunt in the San Francisco River area because of population declines due to disease.

Military hunts

Increased opportunities for oryx and barbary sheep hunting for Fort Bliss military personnel on McGregor Range.

Continued special hunting opportunities for military personnel who served in Afghanistan or Iraq.

For more information and details about the 2007-08, 2008-09 big-game hunting rules, please visit the department Web site, www.wildlife.state.nm.us. Hunters may also check out the 2007-08 Big Game & Trapper Rules & Information booklet available in late December at license vendors or any Department of Game and Fish office.

http://www.ruidosonews.com/lincoln/ci_4470990

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