New Mexico Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

The Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for New Mexico focuses on species of greatest conservation need, key wildlife habitats, and the challenges affecting the conservation of both. The overriding desired outcome is that New Mexico’s key habitats will persist in the condition, connectivity and quantity necessary to sustain viable and resilient populations of these species while hosting a variety of land uses with reduced resource use conflicts. 

The scope, focus and content of the Strategy were influenced by the direct involvement of over 170 individuals external to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) who provided valuable technical and socio-economic insights and constructive criticism from diverse and often conflicting perspectives.  Participants included interests who did not necessarily agree with all portions of the CWCS or with the CWCS initiative in general. 

The Strategy is intended as a blueprint to guide collaborative and coordinated wildlife conservation initiatives involving the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, local, state, federal and tribal government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and interested individuals.

Management

Approximately 34% of New Mexico is federally owned, 12% is state owned, 44% is privately owned, and 10% is within Native American reservations. Federally owned lands are primarily under the stewardship of the Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, Department of Defense, and the National Park Service. There are 22 tribes and reservations within the state. The Navajo Nation and Zuni Tribe own much of the northwestern part of the state, especially along the Arizona border, and the Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache Tribes own land in the north and southeast, respectively. Most of the Pueblo tribes are located along the northern bank of the Rio Grande. In rural New Mexico, agriculture is among the top five industries and is of significant economic, cultural and social importance to the state.

Wildlife Highlights

Size, topography, physical location and the convergence of several life zones in its southwestern quadrant combine to make New Mexico a biologically diverse state, with more than 4,500 different species of plants and animals. More than 1,000 species of mammals, birds, fish, frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, turtles and lizards occur within the state’s borders. Though the total number of species is unknown, diversity is also high among animal groups such as snails, shrimp, insects and spiders.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in New Mexico

Habitat degradation and loss are the most significant factors adversely affecting New Mexico’s wildlife. As might be expected in a dry state, aquatic habitats and the lands immediately associated with them may be at higher risk of alteration than other New Mexico habitats. Conversion to other uses, extraction of minerals or water, excessive removal of biological resources, and pollution present the highest probability of altering New Mexico’s key habitats. The presence of non-native aquatic species also has considerable adverse effects upon native fish and other inhabitants of New Mexico’s aquatic habitats.

Habitat Conversion

Conversion of habitats to urban, residential, commercial, energy and recreational development, agriculture and other such land uses have accelerated over the past century. Consequently, large areas of formerly contiguous landscapes have become increasingly fragmented and isolated. Many aquatic habitats have become altered and fragmented by dams and water diversions associated with such conversions. 

Pollution

Concerns about pollution in New Mexico are primarily focused on aquatic habitats. Runoff from livestock feedlots, dairy operations and urban road surfaces introduces nutrients and contaminants to aquatic habitats. Petrochemicals from extraction sites and refineries also reach aquatic habitats. Both petrochemicals and mercury have been found in many of New Mexico’s reservoirs.      

Consumptive Biological Uses

Logging, deforestation, fuel wood collection and improper domestic livestock and wildlife-grazing regimes (those that reduce long-term plant and animal productivity) can adversely affect species of greatest conservation need and their habitats throughout New Mexico. In areas where multiple consumptive biological uses occur, concerns persist about the ability of these habitats to sustain viable and resilient wildlife populations.

Working Together for New Mexico’s Wildlife

The NMDGF initiated public involvement early in the process by announcing its intent to develop the Strategy and soliciting interest through articles in more than 30 newspapers with a total circulation of more than 330,000. Drafts of the Strategy were made available on NMDGF’s website where reviewers were encouraged to complete an online survey or simply share their thoughts by email. Presentations were made to the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. 

NMDGF conducted several forums seeking to identify and engage potential partners from local, state, Federal and tribal government agencies and non-governmental organizations representing recreation, conservation, agriculture and energy development interests. In addition, through other meetings, emails and phone conversations, NMDGF exchanged information with a broad range of groups who did not participate in the forums.

In all, the scope, focus and content of the strategy were influenced by the direct involvement of over 170 individuals external to NMDGE. NMGDF also participated in the 2004 Wildlife Values in the West Survey that contained questions intended to inform our perceptions about public attitudes pertaining to the conservation of New Mexico’s biodiversity. NMDGF received survey responses from 859 individuals.

 

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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