Wildfires could impact hunting in New Mexico

[anvplayer video=”5110819″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Game and Fish says, this year, more than 275,000 applications were submitted for about 60,000 hunting licenses in the state – including hunts for elk, deer, pronghorn, javelin, bighorn sheep, Barbary sheep, ibex and oryx.

“Most hunting seasons are opening in August and September and then run through the fall,” said Communications Director Tristanna Bickford.

Some pay thousands of dollars for the draw each year, so hunters were understandably worried when the U.S. Forest Service recently announced forest closures through the end of the year, due to high fire danger. Days later, the dates were adjusted.

“The current forest closure is going to be lifted on July 18,” Bickford said, referencing a U.S. Forest Service press release.

Santa Fe, Carson and Cibola national forests may be set to reopen in a couple of months but officials tell KOB 4 that could change, depending on fire weather and activity.

“Like all New Mexicans, we’re hoping for a good monsoon season that will reopen forests and provide good forage for all wildlife,” Bickford said.

Many wonder if any hunts this year could be canceled. Bickford said New Mexico Game and Fish will continue to monitor wildlife, their habitats and closures, to make informed decisions prior to the fall. They plan to do whatever is best for the animals and their environment.

“Like residents in the area, wildlife had been displaced by fires around the state,” Bickford said. “Wildlife is incredibly resilient to fire, but they need space to find new habitats while the fire is burning. Volatile impacts will not be known until after the fire is out. Wildlife and fisheries biologists will continue to monitor species that can be found in fire areas.”