New Mexico Fails in Attempt to Make Hunting and Fishing a Right

by Will Shepard

New Mexico was trying to add hunting and fishing as a right into the state Constitution in February. But, the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives blocked the measure.

Two New Mexico representatives were sponsoring the House Joint Resolutions (HJR). Both Alonzo Baldonado and Zach Cook say that their bill wasn’t going to change anything or make any lasting impacts.

Recently, Cook explained exactly why the bill wasn’t going to change much about the nature of hunting and fishing in New Mexico.

“It’s just saying we have a right to hunt. But we just have to do it in accordance with the rules.”

There were two proposals, both addressing hunting, and fishing in their own rights. The New Mexico representatives wrote their own resolutions, which are HJR 5 and HJR 8. So, the resolutions read as follows:

HJR 5 says that: “The people of the state have a right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in accordance with laws and rules established to manage wildlife. That right shall not be construed to impair laws established to prohibit trespass or to protect property rights.”

And, HJR 8 says: “The individual right of the people to hunt and fish is a valued part of the state’s heritage, and shall be preserved for the public good.”

HJR 8 also says that the “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”

New Mexico Representatives Couldn’t Pass Hunting and Fishing Resolutions

Cook also says that he actually likes Baldonado’s resolution better. He says that he wasn’t thinking about the possibility of this proposal getting rejected.

“I introduced mine because my neighbor down the street is a guide. And he knew that they had done this in Utah and other states. He asked me to carry it, so I did. Apparently, it’s a lot more controversial than I was aware of.”

There was no support for the bill during the public comment portion of the House meeting. But, some people spoke out against the bill.

One person who addressed concerns about the bill made her comments known. New Mexico Representative Joanne Ferrary says that the resolution would make life harder for wildlife managers.

“My concern is that by elevating hunting and fishing as the preferred method to manage wildlife, that could prohibit alternative wildlife methods like relocation.”

HJR 5 was hotly contested because of the property rights portion in it. Baldonado’s resolution was centering on river access, but, again, this was met with opposition.

More importantly, the people opposing the resolutions say that hunting and fishing are a privilege. This means that the two activities cannot be classified as human rights that any person in New Mexico can partake in. One person, Edward Olona took a staunch position on the bills.

“As a longtime outdoorsman, I believe hunting and fishing is not a right, but a sacred privilege that must be subject to rules and regulations.”

Many people voted against the resolutions to allow hunting and fishing to be a right in New Mexico. But, they also make it clear that they support hunting and fishing in the state. So, this won’t change anything about the pastimes in the state.