56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024


Steven McCutcheon II and Pat Woods and Jack Chatfield










     SECTION 1. Section 17-1-14 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1921, Chapter 35, Section 7, as amended) is amended to read:



          A. The state game commission shall have general control over the collection and disbursement of all money collected or received under the state laws for the protection and propagation of game and fish, which money shall be paid over to the state treasurer to the credit of the game protection fund, unless otherwise provided by law, and the fund, including all earned income, shall not be transferred to another fund. Prior to depositing money into the game protection fund, the department of game and fish shall ensure that an amount adequate to cover the cost of refunds allowed by the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 is held in a liability suspense account. All refunds shall be made from the liability suspense account. Money not needed to cover the cost of refunds shall be deposited in the game protection fund at the end of each month. Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 shall be guaranty to the person who pays for hunting and fishing licenses and permits that the money in that fund shall not be used for any purpose other than as provided in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978.

          B. The state game commission shall have authority to:

                (1) establish and, through the director of the department of game and fish, to operate fish hatcheries for the purpose of stocking public waters of the state and to furnish fish fry and fingerlings to stock private waters, receipts from such sources to go into the game protection fund;

                (2) declare closed seasons in any specified locality and on any species of game or fish threatened with undue depletion from any cause;

                (3) establish game refuges for the purpose of providing safe sanctuaries in which game may breed and replenish adjacent hunting ranges, it being the purpose of this provision to establish small refuges rather than large preserves or to close large areas to hunting;

                (4) subject to the procedural requirements of Section 17-4-1 NMSA 1978, purchase lands for game refuges where suitable public lands do not exist, to purchase lands for fish hatcheries and to purchase lands to be maintained perpetually as public hunting grounds, particularly lands suitable for waterfowl hunting, all such lands to be paid for from the game protection fund;

                (5) receive by gift or bequest, in the name and on behalf of the state, lands suitable for game refuges, hunting grounds, fish hatcheries or for any other purpose necessary to carry out the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978;

                (6) apply for and accept any state, federal or private funds, grants or donations from any source for game and fish programs and projects;

                (7) designate certain areas as rest grounds for migratory birds, in which hunting shall be forbidden at all times or at such times as the state game commission shall provide, it being the purpose of this provision not to interfere unduly with the hunting of waterfowl but to provide havens in which they can rest and feed without molestation;

                (8) close any public stream or lake or portion thereof to fishing when such action is necessary to protect a recently stocked water, to protect spawning waters or to prevent undue depletion of the fish;

                (9) propagate, capture, purchase, transport or sell any species of game or fish needed for restocking any lands or streams of the state;

                (10) after reasonable notice and hearing, suspend or revoke any license or permit issued pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 and withhold license privileges from any person procuring a license through misrepresentation, violating any provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or hunting without a proper license;

                (11) adopt rules establishing procedures that provide reasonable notice and a hearing before the state game commission for the suspension, revocation or withholding of license privileges for a definite period of time for a person charged with violating the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978, subject to such judicial review as may be provided by law;

                (12) conduct studies of programs for the management of endangered and nongame species of wildlife;

                (13) establish licenses, permits and certificates not otherwise provided for in Section 17-3-13 NMSA 1978 and charge and collect just and reasonable fees for them; provided that the fees shall not exceed the costs of administration associated with the licenses, permits or certificates;

                (14) permit, regulate or prohibit the commercial taking or capturing of native, free-ranging amphibians or reptiles not specifically protected by law, except for rattlesnake roundups, collection of fish bait and lizard races;

                (15) adopt rules to control, eradicate or prevent the spread of a contagious disease, pest or parasite, including chronic wasting disease, to or among game animals. The rules shall include provisions for:

                     (a) notification to the department of game and fish of the diagnosis or suspected presence of a contagious disease;

                     (b) examination by the state veterinarian or the state veterinarian's designee of suspected infected game animals;

                     (c) quarantine, treatment or destruction of an infected game animal;

                     (d) disinfection and isolation of a licensed private park where an infected game animal has been; and

                     (e) indemnification and destruction of a protected game animal;

                (16) as necessary, designate areas of the state in which bear-proof garbage containers are required on public and private lands to reduce potential human-bear interactions;

                (17) pursuant to appropriation by the legislature, expend money from the game protection fund and the habitat management fund for the improvement, maintenance, development and operation of property for fish and wildlife habitat management; and

                (18) adopt rules to recruit, train and accept the services of volunteers for education and outreach activities, hunter and angler services and wildlife conservation activities administered by the department of game and fish; provided that a volunteer:

                     (a) shall comply with all policies and procedures of the director of the department of game and fish; and

                     (b) shall not be deemed to be a state employee and shall not be subject to the provisions of law relating to state employment, including those relating to hours of work, rates of compensation, leave, unemployment compensation and state employee benefits.

          C. The director of the department of game and fish shall exercise all the powers and duties conferred upon the state game and fish warden by all previous statutes now in force not in conflict with Chapter 17 NMSA 1978.

          D. The state game commission shall have authority to prohibit all hunting in periods of extreme forest fire danger, at such times and places as may be necessary to reduce the danger of destructive forest fires.

          E. The hunting, pursuing, capturing, killing or wounding of any game animals, birds or fish in or upon any game refuge, rest ground or closed water or closed area or during any closed season established or proclaimed by the state game commission in accordance with the authority conferred in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 constitutes a misdemeanor and shall be punishable as prescribed in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978."

     SECTION 2. Section 17-2-44 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1974, Chapter 83, Section 8, as amended) is amended to read:

     "17-2-44. DIRECTOR--LAND OR AQUATIC HABITAT INTEREST ACQUISITION.--In addition to other powers and duties, the director:

          A. subject to the procedural requirements of Section 17-4-1 NMSA 1978, may acquire land or aquatic habitat interests for the conservation, management, restoration, propagation and protection of threatened or endangered species; and

          B. shall conduct studies to determine the status and requirements for survival of threatened or endangered species."

     SECTION 3. Section 17-4-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1939, Chapter 223, Section 1, as amended) is amended to read:

     "17-4-1. POWER TO ACQUIRE LAND.--

          A. The state game commission [of the state of New Mexico is hereby authorized and empowered to] may acquire by purchase, gift, bequest or lease, and [to] hold, develop and improve, lands for fish hatcheries, game farms, game refuges, bird refuges, resting and nesting grounds, field stations, dams, lakes, ditches, flumes, waterways, pipelines, canals, rights of way, trails and roads and for all purposes incidental to the propagation, preservation, protection and management of the game, birds, fish and wildlife of the state [of New Mexico].

          B. The state game commission shall, prior to acquiring land or water rights:

                (1) obtain written approval of an acequia association, a land grant and the board of county commissioners of the county in which the property or water rights sought are located;

                (2) examine and compile a report on the social, cultural and economic impacts to the acequia association, land grant or county in which the acquisition is located; and

                (3) obtain the approval of the legislature for the acquisition.

          C. The state game commission shall report to the legislature no later than October 1 of each year on all expenditures from the game protection fund and their purposes, the results of the social, cultural and economic impact survey of any land or water acquisition and recommendations for legislative approval for further expenditures from the fund for the acquisition of land or water rights."

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