SB417: "State Game Commission Mission and Purpose" recognizes that all of NM's wildlife deserves protection.

Flying bat with centipede

We need your help to get it passed.

This bill recognizes NM's extraordinary biodiversity. It also recognizes that as a public agency entrusted with the care of our state's wildlife, the NM Department of Game and Fish (DGF) has a duty to protect all wildlife for all New Mexicans. Right now, our DGF and State Game Commission (SGC) only have legal authority over 60% of our vertebrate species. That leaves 40% of our wildlife completely unprotected.

For example, we have a wide variety of bat species in New Mexico that provide free pest control for our communities and farms. But not everyone likes bats. If New Mexicans started actively exterminating large colonies of bats, even if our Department of Game and Fish wanted to step in they legally cannot because they do not have authority over bats. This is a huge problem.
 

We need your help to get this bill passed.

 

Not all of our representatives on the Senate Conservation Committee are fully behind us. If your representative is listed below, please give them a call now and urge them to support SB 417. See the talking points below.

Senator Bill Soules: (505) 986-4834
Senator Joe Cervantes: (505) 986-4861
Senator Richard C. Martinez: (505) 986-4487

  • SB417 (Steinborn) amends existing statute to provide that the state’s policy is to manage all wildlife “for the benefit, use and enjoyment of all New Mexicans, including future generations,” not just some species (“game and fish”) for certain uses (“public recreation and food supply”).
     
  • SB417 would give the State Game Commission (SGC) and NM Dept. of Game and Fish (DGF) management authority over all wildlife in New Mexico. Authority is currently limited by statute to the following subgroups:
    • Protected game species (17-2-3)
    • Amphibians and reptiles (17-2-4.2)
    • Songbirds (17-2-3)
    • Hawks, vultures and owls (17-2-14)
    • Protected furbearers (17-5-2)
    • State endangered species (17-2-37)
       
  • SB417 is not an unfunded mandate because it does not require the SGC or the DGF to actively regulate and manage any additional species, but instead grants them the authority to do so if appropriate, “contingent on sufficient resources.”
     
  • SB417 does not require DGF to reallocate significant resources to deal with nuisance species (e.g. packrats and mosquitos, etc.) because it specifically states that DGF “is not required to respond to or mitigate property damage caused by wildlife unless: A. the commission, in its own discretion, adopts a policy or rule to do so; or B. otherwise provided by law.”
     
  • New Mexico is one of the most biologically diverse states in the U.S. However, the existing patchwork of protections in state law leaves hundreds of species with no legal protection, including many native fish, bats and rodents.
     
  • The public increasingly values wild animals for “non-consumptive” uses, such as wildlife watching, ecological contributions, or intrinsic value. (Although hunting and fishing remain cherished traditions in New Mexico, most New Mexicans do not fish or hunt.[2])
     
  • Courts in the U.S. (including New Mexico) have long upheld the principle that states have a duty to manage all the wildlife within their borders in trust for the benefit of current and future generations.

[1] Sources: Biota Information System of New Mexico; NM Ornithological Society; J. Frey, 2004, Taxonomy and Distribution of the Mammals of New Mexico: An Annotated Checklist.

[2] According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2011 survey), 4% of New Mexicans 16 years or older said they hunt, and 14% said they fish.

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