Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator
On December 1, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in support of several proposed rule changes made by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) to reduce the minimum age to participate in the Mentored-Youth Hunting Program from 10 to 8, to increase the diversity of huntable species, and to require mentors to obtain basic certification before taking children afield.
“We must make every effort to remove all unnecessary barriers limiting our ability to recruit new hunters to the outdoor sporting community,” said New Mexico State Representative and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Bill Rehm. “Without the participation of our youth, the very future of conservation in our state and nation is in jeopardy.”
Hunting license sales provide essential funding for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration, while hunter expenditures generate billions of dollars annually for the national economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. The decline in hunter participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation and state wildlife management.
CSF commends the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s effort to further remove barriers to hunter recruitment by allowing children at a younger age to hunt safely and responsibly while under the watchful eye of a dedicated mentor and increase the diversity of species they are able to pursue. By doing so, children will have more opportunities for formative hunting experiences that will serve as the necessary stepping stones in the journey to becoming a lifelong conservationist that contributes to natural resource stewardship through the American System of Conservation Funding.
On December 3, after a lengthy discussion, the New Mexico State Game Commission voted (4 – yes, 3 – no) to approve the proposed changes to the Hunter Education rule which will go into effect January 1, 2021. This vote is a win for hunter recruitment in the Land of Enchantment State.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?