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Proposal to eliminate non-resident sheep tags in New Mexico


March 14, 2022
posted in: News

At a recent public meeting in New Mexico, a preliminary review of the Bighorn Sheep Rules was heard by the State Game Commission. The biggest issue discussed was the allocation of resident and non-resident sheep draw permits. Proposals presented by some individuals and sportsman’s organizations sought to increase bighorn sheep hunting opportunities for residents. Of the 50 state-wide permits, the discussion centered around the 7 permits available for non-resident. This discussion resulted in a push-pull debate over out-of-state hunters, outfitting, wild sheep conservation funding, and the historic success the state has seen in recovering its wild sheep resources.

The proposed rule changes, if adopted by the Commission, would eliminate all 7 non-resident draw allocations. As a result, non-residents would not be able to participate in the draw permit process for bighorn sheep in New Mexico. Besides the loss of revenue to the state from the non-resident applications and these higher price permits once drawn, there is a real threat of other collateral damage. This is the loss of support from non-residents to purchase raffle and auction permits and donors to wild sheep enhancement programs if they are locked out of the draw.

In reference to the historically successful wild sheep recovery programs in New Mexico noted above, funded by stakeholders from across the US and Canada, WSF and B&C have opposed this action.

The NM Game Commission has chosen to turn the issue over to the State Attorney General’s office for review and Comment. Bottom line: This discussion over New Mexico bighorn sheep would be dramatically different if it were not for the decades of support brought by non-resident hunters that have significantly contributed to successfully growing the state’s sheep population. The discussion would be, why don’t we have more sheep? Real conservation work is growing the pie for everyone, not fighting over the slices.

READ the letters to the New Mexico State Game Commission from WSF and the Boone and Crockett Club and New Mexico Wild Sheep Foundation.

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