Proposed Rule Change Aims to Reduce Mentored-Youth Hunting Program Age Requirement in New Mexico

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On Friday, October 16, the New Mexico State Game Commission will be hosting a virtual meeting and rule hearing on a number of proposed changes to the Hunter Education rule.

The newly proposed rule includes changes to reduce the minimum age to participate in the Mentored-Youth Hunting Program from 10 to 8 years of age, and add pronghorn to allowable species Mentored-Youth may hunt. As it stands, Mentored-Youth hunters are limited to pursuing small-game, turkey, deer and javelina. Additionally, the proposed changes would require a mentor to possess either a hunter education certification number or a mentor certification number of an abbreviated hunter training course and current registration in the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s (NMDGF) mentored-youth program. 

The Mentored-Youth Hunting Program is just one example of how NMDGF it actively working to increase hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3). Similar to apprentice hunting licenses offered around the country, the program allows novice hunters the opportunity to hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter before they have completed their hunter education course.

In the United States, participation in hunting has been generally declining since the 1980’s. 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. In response to the declining number of sportsmen, state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, shooting sports organizations, and the hunting/shooting sports industry have invested heavily in R3 initiatives.

By reducing the Mentored-Youth hunter age and increasing the applicable species in New Mexico, children are being recruited into hunting at an earlier age, increasing the probability of retaining them as active participants into adulthood and increasing the opportunity and diversity of species they are ultimately able to harvest.

Interested persons may submit comments on the proposed changes to the Hunter Education rule at lance.cherry@state.nm.us or submit written comments to NMDGF at 1 Wildlife Way, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507. All comments are due by 8:00 a.m. on October 15, 2020.

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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?

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