New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

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New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish logo.gif
Agency overview
Agency executive
  • Mike Sloane, Director

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) is a department of the Government of New Mexico, United States, that is responsible for maintaining wildlife and fish in the state. The NMDGF undertakes protection, conservation and propagation, and regulates the use of game and fish to ensure there is an adequate supply for recreation and food.[1]

Administrative framework[edit]

Territorial legislature created what would become the game department in 1903. With New Mexico statehood 1912, the Legislature created the Department of Game and Fish by name, and in 1921 Legislature created a three-member commission.[2] Today a seven-member body appointed by the governor, the State Game Commission authorizes regulations and the Department implements and enforces them.[3] Not more than four members can be from the same political party. Five of the members represent different geographical areas of the state. The other two members are appointed “at large.” At least one member of the commission shall represent agricultural interests and one member represent conservation interests.[4] The commission hires the Director of the Department of Game and Fish, and can fire the Director. The Director runs the department, a scientific wildlife resource management organization that largely steers clear of politics other than implementing the Commission's rulings.[5] The NMDGF applies regulations on all land in New Mexico, whether Federal, State or privately owned, other than Indian land. On many Pueblo lands and reservations, Game and Fish staff work with the people responsible for wildlife management.[3]

Fishing and hunting license fees and taxes on fishing and hunting goods such as rod, reels and rifles provide a large part of the department's funding, although major capital programs may be funded by the legislature.[5] Starting in 1991, Game and Fish started to implement the Sikes Act, under which anglers who use public land that is managed by the United States Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management must buy a Habitat Improvement Validation. Funds from this sources are used, as the name implies, to fund habitat improvements.[6]

In 2011, a bill was being considered for eliminating the State Game Commission and merging the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish into the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.[7]


At the suggestion of big-game hunter Frank C. Hibben, between 1969 and 1977 the Department of Game and Fish introduced 93 captive bred Oryx into the White Sands Missile Range, intending them to be hunted for sport. It was assumed that they would remain in the Tularosa Basin and that mountain lions would control their numbers. These assumptions were incorrect. The oryx found the environment ideal and rapidly increased in numbers, as of 2012 reaching between 3,000 and 6,000 animals, and spread into the White Sands National Monument and private lands where public hunting is not allowed.[8] Despite several hundred being taken every year, numbers continue to expand.[8] As of 2001, oryx had been spotted as far apart as sixty miles south of Albuquerque, and West Texas. The department has undertaken an expensive program to fence the White Sands National Monument and then remove all the oryx from the park.[9]

In 1977, Game and Fish began arresting non-Indian hunters for illegal possession of game that was taken from the Mescalero reservation in accordance with tribal laws, since this was not in compliance with state law. The tribe filed suit, and the case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in favor of the Mescaleros. Reasons included the argument that giving Game and Fish authority would "nullify the Tribe's unquestioned authority to regulate the use of its resources by members and nonmembers".[10]


Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a species endemic to the Albuquerque Basin that may be under threat

In 1955 the Department of Game and Fish created Clayton Lake in Clayton Lake State Park as a fishing lake and winter waterfowl resting area. The department assists in managing Fenton Lake State Park and Eagle Nest Lake State Park.[citation needed] The Carson National Forest is operated by the United States Department of Agriculture - Forestry Service. The Department of Game and Fish Department works with the forest personnel to maintain the wildlife habitat and to stock the many lakes and the four hundred miles of mountain streams with native trout.[11]

As of 1989, the Fish Management Division operated six hatcheries: Glenwood Hatchery, Lisboa Springs Hatchery, Parkview Hatchery, Red River Hatchery, Seven Springs Hatchery and Rock Lake Hatchery. The last hatches walleye while the others hatch trout or kokanee.[12] The discovery of whirling disease, Myxobolus cerebralis, in the early 1990s had a devastating effect, since some fish from five of the six hatcheries tested positive, and Game and Fish decided they should not stock any fish from hatcheries with known diseases. The hatcheries will have to be rebuilt.[13]

Other activities[edit]

The Department of Game and Fish operates the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex, a group of four conservation area in New Mexico devoted to assisting birdlife in the region with Waterfowl Management Areas at La Joya, Bernardo, Casa Colorada, and Belen.[14]

Game and Fish has developed the Biota Information System of New Mexico (BISON-M) in collaboration with other agencies, which holds information on all vertebrate and many invertebrate species of wildlife found in New Mexico and Arizona, including all threatened, endangered and sensitive species.[15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]



  1. ^ Home - NMDGF.
  2. ^ "A century of wildlife management, part 1 - New Mexico Wildlife magazine". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  3. ^ a b Piper 1989, p. 251.
  4. ^ "Commission - New Mexico Department of Game & Fish". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  5. ^ a b Piper 1989, p. 252.
  6. ^ Martin 2002, p. 21.
  7. ^ Bandy 2011.
  8. ^ a b Oryx.
  9. ^ Rowley 2001.
  10. ^ Marshall 1983.
  11. ^ Carson National Forest - About Us.
  12. ^ Piper 1989, p. 254.
  13. ^ Martin 2002, p. 26.
  14. ^ Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex - NMDGF.
  15. ^ Biota Information System of New Mexico.