SANTA FE – The State Game Commission approved proposals to move forward with plans to restore river otters in two New Mexico Rivers, and to rename the fish hatchery and trout lakes in Los Ojos.

At its meeting Aug. 24 in Santa Fe, the Commission directed the Department of Game and Fish to proceed with plans to reintroduce river otters to sections of the upper Rio Grande and the upper Gila River. There have been no confirmed sightings of river otters in the state since the 1950s, but recent reports indicate some otters may have migrated to Navajo Lake from Colorado, where they were reintroduced in the 1980s.

The Commission action followed the Department’s presentation of a feasibility study that indicated otter reintroduction efforts could be successful in state waters that formerly were in the otters’ historic range. The study was the result of research by and collaboration with a diverse group of government agencies, the New Mexico River Otter Working Group and members of the public.

In other action, the Commission:

  • Unanimously approved a proposal to change the names of Parkview Fish Hatchery and Burns Lake in northern New Mexico to Los Ojos Hatchery and Laguna del Campo, respectively. The changes were requested by area residents who said the new names better reflect the history and culture of Rio Arriba County and the Los Ojos community.
  • Heard an update on development of the state big-game hunting rules for the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 license years. The presentation included the latest public and Department recommendations for rules that will be presented to the Commission for approval at its Sept. 28-29 meeting in Tucumcari. Proposed rule changes include adjustments of season dates and hunting opportunities, requirements for trappers, and possible modifications to current antler point restrictions for deer and elk.
  • Approved the final draft of the Department’s biennial review of New Mexico threatened and endangered wildlife. The review included modifications to the state list of threatened and endangered wildlife to reflect biological status changes, including: downlisting the piping plover and the shortneck snaggletooth from endangered to threatened; and uplisting the Arizona grasshopper sparrow, Pecos bluntnose shiner, and the spikedace from threatened to endangered.

The New Mexico Game Commission is composed of seven members who represent the state’s diverse interests in wildlife-associated recreation and conservation. Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Current members are Leo Sims, chairman, Hobbs; Tom Arvas, vice-chairman, Albuquerque; Alfredo Montoya, Alcalde; David Henderson, Santa Fe; M.H. “Dutch” Salmon, Silver City; Peter Pino, Zia Pueblo; and Terry Riley, Tijeras. For more information, visit the Department of Game and Fish Web site at .

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