NM Game Commission to decide hunting limits for mountain lion, bear
Monday, October 23, 2023
The number of mountain lions killed by New Mexico hunters in recent years has fallen below what the state allows, but wildlife advocates think a proposed limit for the next four years is too high.
The state game commission meets this week to approve a kill quota of 563 individual mountain lions per year.
Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, said because they are an elusive specifies, the number is too high, especially considering changing weather patterns have disrupted the historic balance of nature.
"It's hard to count them and there's a lot of uncertainty, so we need to be cautious," Ray asserted. "The proposals that the Game and Fish is making are not cautious."
The department's own count shows the number of mountain lions killed by hunters is roughly 350 per year, which means 10% of the state's estimated population is killed from known causes. The figure does not include those from natural causes, starvation, dehydration, disease, wildfires or attacks from bears and wolves.
New Mexico has suffered severe drought conditions the past two decades, and in 2022, the worst wildfire in state history. Ray pointed out those events caused habitat degradation and fragmentation for wildlife. She believes hunting quotas should be reduced by at least 50% before the species is placed at risk.
"I mean, we did wipe out wolves," Ray explained. "And in our changing world -- the climate's changing, all the fires we're having, the drought -- I don't know that we can rely on that without some care going into the future."
During the 2020-2021 New Mexico hunting season, 323 mountain lions were killed, compared to 424 the year before. The commission is also set to consider a recommendation on black bear quotas at its Friday meeting, increasing the total kills from 864 from the current 804.
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