Introduced Legislative Memorials would have monitored Game & Fish Dept.

By Mary Katherine Ray
Chapter Wildlife chair

Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces, who sits on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, heard the testimony on HB579, the bill to ban trapping on public land, and afterward introduced two memorials that would have provided needed oversight of New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

He argued that the agency under Director Jim Lane has demonstrably altered its direction and is not adequately protecting nongame and threatened and endangered species and in some cases, such as the Mexican wolf and lesser prairie chicken, the agency has been openly hostile to their conservation.

HM90 would have directed the Legislative Finance Committee to audit the agency to insure that it is complying with its mandate to conserve nongame and threatened and endangered species and other related statutes. HM91 would have directed Game and Fish to appoint a seven-member advisory board composed primarily of conservationists and biologists to examine and offer guidance on the agency’s policies regarding the conservation of nongame and threatened and endangered species.

Both memorials passed out of committee by a party-line vote. Unfortunately, neither was heard on the House floor before the clock ran out and the Legislature adjourned.

Rep. Steinborn has our sincere thanks for shedding light on the importance of wildlife that doesn’t generate revenue for the agency but is nonetheless part of our shared natural treasure. The discussion on these memorials exposed the unsettling attitude the agency has adopted toward some species in its care.

Please thank Representative Steinborn at jeff.steinborn@nmlegis.gov.