New Mexico Nets Big Gains From Special Auctions
Big-game conservation efforts in New Mexico picked up an extra $568,000 at recent auctions for special licenses and permits, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will triple that amount with federal matching funds for habitat restoration and big-game enhancement projects statewide.
Well-heeled trophy hunters showed once again this year how much they are willing to pay for chances to go after record-book big-game in New Mexico, shelling out big bucks in auctions for opportunities to hunt big bucks, bulls and billies. The auctions are important fund-raising tools for the Department, which uses them to supplement money raised primarily through license sales.
A hunter from Washington made this year's highest bid of $172,000 for a package of hunts -- deer, elk, pronghorn, oryx and ibex. The hunt package sold at the annual Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation National Convention in Reno and was one of two made available for the first time this year. The other package sold for $145,000 to a hunter from California at the Mule Deer Foundation Convention in Salt Lake City.
Other hunting opportunities at the auctions and their prices included:
- * Elk: $90,000 to a hunter from Tennessee.
- * Bighorn sheep: $90,000 to a hunter from Illinois.
- * Mule deer: $71,000 to a hunter from Arizona.
The special licenses and permits allow hunters to harvest animals with any legal weapon during extended seasons on public land or on private land statewide with a landowner's permission.
The Department of Game and Fish calls them "enhancement" licenses and permits because the money raised in the auctions is used for big-game habitat enhancement, conservation and protection. Most of the money raised at auctions is matched 3-to-1 with Federal Wildlife Restoration Grant money, giving the Department opportunities to restore and improve significant and meaningful areas of habitat statewide.
Enhancement funds currently are being used to restore habitat in Game Management Unit 2C and the Rio Chama Wildlife Management Area in northwestern New Mexico; Magdalena Mountain and Chupadera Mesa in central New Mexico; Pelona Mountain and the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico; and the Lincoln National Forest in southeastern New Mexico.
The enhancement license program also includes annual raffles through Department partnerships with sporting and conservation groups. Tickets are available from these organizations:
- * Elk license raffle: $20 a ticket; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, contact Allen Kerby, (505) 454-9390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- * Bighorn sheep license raffle: $20 a ticket; Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, contact Kent Schauer, (505) 299-4426.
- * Deer permit raffle: Mule Deer Foundation, contact (505) 476-8038.
For more information about the Department's enhancement permits and licenses, please visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us, or call the Department Wildlife Management Division, (505) 476-8038.