A few days ago, the newly elected New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard issued an executive order banning coyote killing contests on state public lands.
In only her first week on the job, we already see her inexperience regarding issues that affect the sportsmen community coming through. Her decision is all about pleasing radical special interests in Santa Fe and not understanding the rest of New Mexico or the challenges faced when managing coyotes for the benefit of all wildlife.
With the stroke of a pen, the newly-elected land commissioner utilized far-reaching powers in an attempt to eliminate a practice that has a history and benefit in New Mexico. Our sportsmen deserve the same access to state public lands for hunting and trapping that they have utilized for generations.
There is no doubt the term “coyote killing contest” has a flare to it. It evokes anger among those that want to protect animals. Obviously, by calling it a “killing contest,” the newly-elected land commissioner was going for some points with portions of her radical supporters.
Keep in mind that your new land commissioner has no practical experience for the job. You might expect a rancher, oil and gas worker would have better hands on knowledge of what the job entails. The former teacher and legislator from Los Alamos is clearly over reaching the powers of the office in this attempt to keep your public lands from you.
Another aspect of this ill-planned, knee-jerk action is that of enforcement. Who exactly is going to police these contests? State Police? Local law enforcement? Our sheriff’s offices? Does an executive order hold the weight of law in the courts? The answer is no.
It is an administrative violation and the land office does not have the law enforcement officers to enforce it. Even if the law enforcement question is settled, does the land commissioner plan to clog the courts with “egregious” actions committed by someone legally hunting?
Rest assured sportsmen, this is not likely to be the only instance eroding your right to hunt and fish in New Mexico. There is a whole host of newly-elected legislators who will propose bills that will aim to limit your Second Amendment rights and your access to hunt and trap on public lands. Bills to ban trapping altogether are already in the works.
This “solution” brought forth by the new land commissioner may very well please the radical interests who live within her bubble, but not the rest of New Mexico. The way of life for the rural parts of our state is much different from that of the city dweller … and the state’s public lands belong to us, too.
(Rep. Alanzo Baldonado, a Republican, represents the New Mexico House of Representatives District 8.)
Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, guest columnist
Alonzo Baldonado, a Republican, has been the District 8 representative for Valencia County in the New Mexico Legislature since 2011. He is a real estate broker.