Disbanding State Game Commissions Across America:
Reforming Wildlife Management
Bold Visions Conservation: the Case for Biodiversity
Biodiversity represents the variety of life across the Earth, and its variations within the species. It is a measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems, like genetic variation, ecosystem variation, or species variation (number of species) within an area, biome, or the entire planet.
No other issue impacts wildlife in our state and nationally more, than the game management dictates of State Game Commissions; in New Mexico, the situation has reached a critical mass, with a hand-appointed commission seemingly on a mission to destroy all predator species across the state.
When the Commission recently blocked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction program, many conservation groups and individuals expressed outrage, but our Governor and her appointees continue to move aggressively to protect their special interests of farmers and ranchers, extractive industries and radical sportsmen that control the agenda of this commission, with our state’s wildlife paying the price.
These elements within the Commission continue to work together to impede biodiversity in our state and it is biodiversity that should be at the core of every decision made related to our wildlife. Today in New Mexico, less than 4% of the public actually hunts; the other 96% of outdoor users enjoy activities like hiking, camping and other recreational activities, and their voice continues to be ignored.
The commission and their appointees have also raised a series of ethical conflicts, with several members resigning after discovery of their illegal wildlife hunting or employee improprieties. This has created an educational opportunity we can exploit.
We have put together a plan to make biodiversity the focal point of the Game and Fish Department and their management plans moving forward. It requires changing the way the Commission (and the Game and Fish Department it controls) have operated since their inception, and will require significant efforts of conservation groups and citizens alike across the state to bring about this change.
Game Commission Disbandment
The starting point for true reform in our state must begin with disbandment of the State Game Commission. The history of the State Game Commission is one of appointments that often reflect political contributions to the Governor, no matter their political party. We see the influence of special interests: oil and gas, livestock and sportsmen, making sure that they determine the representative makeup of this seven-member commission. In reality, the Game Commission does not work in the best interest of wildlife: they neither reflect the North American Wildlife Model or properly execute the dictates of the Endangered Species Act.
Far from working to help wildlife in our state, the Commission has historically worked to promote game species exclusively and, at the behest of farmers and ranchers, ensure the demise of all predator species.
If the commission is disbanded, the Game and Fish Director would operate the agency, not through special interests, but on the core idea of protecting and expanding biodiversity. No longer can this agency’s operation be centered on game species, but should manage equally for all species. Input from public meetings should continue and the public comments can be heard directly by the Director and Game and Fish staff.
State Game and Fish departments have long enjoyed funding from federal sources in addition to the funding that comes from the sale of game tags.
Sources of department revenue include funding from the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts; these surcharges on ammunition, fishing and boating equipment pay for a portion of the operational overhead. Based upon these fees, sportsmen have often voiced their opinion that they “pay their way for using the outdoors.” However, recent findings point out that far more operating revenue (about 94%) flows directly from non-sportsmen taxpayer dollars and by funds donated by conservation organizations for various state projects.
Our goal is to fund this agency in a transparent manner that is designed to remove current political influences from the wildlife management process. It is also essential that proportional funding is reassigned to the study and management of non-game species, as part of the overall Game and Fish budget.
1. Remand funds generated by hunting tag sales into the state’s general fund. The agency would then submit annual budgets for funding to the legislature, like any other department. This removes the incentive to focus the system’s management strictly on game species.
2. Creation of a State Biodiversity license plate with all funds going to non-game species studies and support.
3. Work to create a 2% surcharge on the sales of all outdoors equipment in New Mexico (tents, sleeping bags, car racks, skis etc.;) this would be used by the agency to fund peer reviewed scientific studies and to support the agency goal of maintaining and strengthening biodiversity. This funding would also be used to supplement the loss of revenue by eliminating trapping in New Mexico.
Changing the Charter
This is the current mission statement of the Game and Fish Department and it reflects the lack of concern for biodiversity and direction of this agency and clearly needs revision as does the name of the agency:
It is our mission “To conserve, regulate, propagate and protect the wildlife and fish within the state of New Mexico using a flexible management system that ensures sustainable use for public food supply, recreation and safety; and to provide for off-highway motor vehicle recreation that recognizes cultural, historic, and resource values while ensuring public safety.”
Our goal would be to instead make sound science, biodiversity and equal consideration for all species the cornerstone of a revised mission for this agency. This change is important, because no matter the director, or future politics, this agency must have a firm mission and direction, not one that changes every four years.
Creating a name that reflects the need for sound science and working for all wildlife, might be reflected in this:
State Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity Sciences
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BOLD VISIONS' GOAL
To reform the New Mexico State Game Commission, and use that model to reform Game & Fish Departments across the country.
1. Organize individuals to become vocal supporters of reform and restructuring the agency.
2. Organize and build the support of the business community; we have over 100 businesses signed on already, but we need 1500 businesses supporting our goal to be effective.
3. Work within the religious community to gain their support for reform, and to demonstrate respect for all life.
4. Work with students to educate them and enable them to become the “voices for change” we seek as we work to reform the agency and to educate elected officials.
5. Educate and drive new legislation from our elected officials who can help make these changes reality.
6. Build a strong and vibrant conservation community working in unison to reform this agency and move it into the 21st century.
What we are proposing is not revolutionary, but it would be transformational for the Game and Fish Department’s management plan and the effectiveness of the department’s wildlife management. This proposal is a blueprint for change, but these changes may be layered over several years, and will require tremendous support from both foundations and the general public.
The goal is to make the New Mexico State Game and Fish Department a shining example of what this agency could look like in every state. If implemented, the results for wildlife and biodiversity would be a very important step in the recovery of all species.
The issue of reforming Game and Fish is complex. Putting a timeline to it requires that we consider the complexities of the politics of institutions. Perhaps the most important date is January of 2017; that will be the start of the next 60-day session at the New Mexico Legislature. That will be the time when the first substantial action can be taken to reform Game and Fish.
We will require educational meetings with representatives throughout the year.
For there to be success, it is imperative that we begin traveling the state in early 2016, educating people about the importance of reforming the Game and Fish agency, starting with disbanding their commission.
The efforts to engage businesses and the religious community are ongoing and began in the fall of 2015.
While many goals will not be realized overnight, we must begin to aggressively challenge this agency and to push forward on an agenda that places biodiversity on the front lines of the mission of this agency and allows the voices of the clear majority of outdoor users to be respected.
The Massachusetts Carnivore Conservation Act
- Should New Mexico enact a similar measure as a first step?
- Bold Visions is reviewing this document for possible introduction
North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Nearly every state suffers from the same, non-scientific wildlife management issues from their State Game Commissions as the shenanigans seen in H.R. 2406!
See Game Commission Reform
Please sign the petition and write your Senators and Senator Lisa Murkowski and tell them: Federal Public Lands are for everyone, not just hunters! Tell them the quiet sounds of nature are a very important part of your outdoor experience! Tell them you want their NO vote on H.R. 2406!
READ FULL TEXT OF H.R. 2406 HERE
One of the worst Bills in the past century for people and wildlife
Paul M. Kienzle III
P.O. Box 587
Albuquerque, NM 87103-0587
Paul Kienzle is an attorney in Albuquerque. He hunts and fishes on public and private lands and is committed to protecting people’s right to do so. He enjoys shooting sports. He is passionate about New Mexico’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms for lawful hunting and recreation purposes. He is interested in putting more youth, adults and first-time hunters in the field. He was educated at Duke University and the University of Illinois College of Law. The New Mexico Senate confirmed his appointment Feb. 25, 2013. Kienzle represents Game Commission District Five. His term expires Dec. 31, 2015.
William “Bill” Montoya
125 Little Creek Hills Road
Alto, NM 88312-9503
Home: (575) 336-2533
Cell: (505) 412-0290
Bill Montoya is a former director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. He worked for the Department for 28 years, overseeing conservation and game management before taking over the director’s position. He is also the former president of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He holds a degree in wildlife management from New Mexico State University. The New Mexico Senate confirmed his appointment Feb. 25, 2013. Montoya represents Game Commission District 1. The district is composed of Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties. His term expires Dec. 31, 2017.
Robert Espinoza Sr. a resident of Farmington for more than 50 years, owns and operates a metal fabricating and construction business in Farmington along with his two sons, Tiger and Benny. He formerly served as President/Executive Director of United Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife New Mexico, and is active in several other sportsmen’s and conservation organizations, including the Mule Deer Foundation, National Rifle Association, Wild Sheep Foundation, Sportsmen and Landowners Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International. A lifelong avid sportsman, he devotes most of his time and efforts to promoting our hunting and fishing heritage in New Mexico and enhancing the habitat for New Mexico’s wildlife, with a big focus on promoting youth actives and opportunities. The New Mexico Senate confirmed his appointment Feb. 25, 2013. Espinoza represents Game Commission District 3. The district is composed of San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Valencia, Sandoval, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties. His term ends Dec. 31, 2015.
Home: (575) 526-1314
Ralph Ramos, a native of Hurley in Grant County, is a Middle School Principal in Las Cruces, having served that community and Las Cruces Public Schools for 18 years. He has taught Agriscience and served as advisor to the local Future Farmers of America chapter for eight years before moving into administration. He holds a BS and MA in Agricultural Education from NMSU. He is a lifelong professional sportsman and guide and has hunted throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Africa as he is currently serving as a hunting industry pro staff member. His passion is educating the public through articles and videography, as well as presenting elk and turkey calling seminars for Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other organizations. He is a member of: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Rifle Association, Mesilla Valley Sportsman’s Alliance. Ramos is one of two commissioners appointed at-large. His term expires Dec. 31, 2018.
Robert Ricklefs has been ranch superintendent at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico since 1981. He is in charge of wildlife management, livestock, agriculture, water rights, timber management and range management. He is a member of the Colfax regional water planning committee and is a founding member of the Cimarron Watershed Alliance. He contributed to the first black bear study in New Mexico and has been a cooperator in other New Mexico bear and cougar studies. He is a past member of the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management Advisory Council and currently serves as a board member with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the University of Wyoming. Ricklefs represents Game Commission District 4. In his personal time, he enjoys camping with family and grandchildren. His term expires Dec. 31, 2018.
An experienced oil, gas and energy attorney, Elizabeth “Beth” Atkinson Ryan focuses her practice in the areas of oil and gas title examination, regulatory, transactional, and everyday operational matters. Partnering with Joel M. Carson III, they created the law firm of Carson Ryan LLC in January 2014 after Ryan’s own firm, Ryan Law Firm, P.C. expanded at an extraordinary pace in 2012 and 2013. Appointed by Governor Susana Martinez in 2011, Beth just completed four years of service as a member of the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Landman’s Association and is a Trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. She is an active member of Safari Club International (SCI) and the local SENM SCI Chapter, National Rifle Association (NRA), and a voting member of the Chaves County DWI Planning Council, a subcommittee of the Chaves County Commission. Beth also serves on the Board of Directors of Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell. She has had a passion since a young age for hunting and outdoor adventure. Beth is a summa cum laude graduate of Lubbock Christian University with a B.A. in Humanities with an emphasis in pre-law and a minor in Biblical studies. She received her J.D. cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2006. Ryan is one of two commissioners appointed at-large. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2015.
Thomas “Dick” Salopek
975 Holcomb Road
Las Cruces, NM 88007
Work: (575) 526-5946
Fax: (575) 526-0867
Dick Salopek of Las Cruces is a third-generation pecan farmer in the Mesilla Valley. He is an avid hunter, bowhunter and outdoorsman. He is co-owner of Tom Salopek Farms, Western Blend, Salopek 4-MP and Robledo Pecan Sorting. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Dona Ana County Planning & Zoning Commission, the New Mexico Pecan Grower’s Association, and is treasurer of the Dona Ana County Farm Bureau. Salopek has been on the Board of Councilors at Citizens Bank. He is also a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Rifle Association. He holds a B.A. in Agronomy and Soil Science from New Mexico State University. Salopek represents Game Commission District 2. The district is composed of Catron, Socorro, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra and Doña Ana counties. His term ends Dec. 31, 2017.