SANTA FE — The State Game Commission will consider opening a second round of public comments on the 2008 Biennial Review, which includes recommendations to downlist desert bighorn sheep from endangered to threatened, and to uplist the gray redhorse sucker from threatened to endangered on the state threatened and endangered species list.

The first round of comments was March-June, 2008. The proposed second round of public comments, a requirement under the Wildlife Conservation Act, would be Aug. 21 through Sept. 4.

Copies of the recommendations are available at the Department of Game and Fish website, Copies also can be obtained by contacting Renae Held, (505) 476-8101,, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

The State Game Commission will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 21 at the State Bar of New Mexico building, 5121 Masthead NE, in Albuquerque.


LAS CRUCES — The Department of Game and Fish will discuss development of a recovery plan for the blue sucker and the gray redhorse, fish species native to the Pecos River drainage and the Rio Grande near the Texas-New Mexico border, at a public meeting Aug. 14 in Las Cruces.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Department of Game and Fish office, 2715 Northrise Drive, in Las Cruces.

The blue sucker (Cycleptus elongates) is listed as endangered and the gray redhorse (Moxostoma congestum) as threatened in New Mexico. Blue suckers typically inhabit swift deep areas in larger rivers and can attain lengths over two feet. Gray redhorse suckers are smaller, up to 1½ feet in length, and are found in deep, slow water, including impoundments. Recent toxic outbreaks of golden algae have drastically reduced or eliminated populations of blue sucker and gray redhorse in the Pecos River. A long-term life history study of the species is available on the Department website, 

The Wildlife Conservation Act requires a recovery plan for restoration and maintenance of each state-listed species in New Mexico. At the meeting, the Department also will recruit members of an advisory committee to assist in development of the plan.

More information about the blue sucker and the gray redhorse and the recovery plan is available from Stephanie Carman, Department of Game and Fish, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504; (505) 476-8128, or

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of a reader, amplifier, qualified sign language interpreter, or any other form of auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in the hearing or meeting, please contact Shirley Baker at (505) 476-8030, at least 3 working days before the set meeting date. Public documents, including the agenda and minutes can be provided in various accessible forms. Please contact Baker if a summary or other type of accessible form is needed.



TAOS — Wild river otters will be swimming and playing in the Rio Grande for the first time in decades next week when Pueblo de Taos, USDA Wildlife Services and the Department of Game and Fish release five otters imported from Washington State.

The adult otters will be released in the Rio Grande Box on Pueblo de Taos land. USDA Wildlife Services planned to deliver the otters to the Pueblo on Sunday. The Department of Game and Fish will allow the animals into the state after reviewing the required health certifications.

Darren Bruning, a Wildlife Services biologist, and Jim Stuart, Department of Game and Fish mammalogist, said the otters will be held in a confinement area for a few days before they are released. 

The release will be the first of several planned by the Department and a diverse group of conservation  partners, including Taos Pueblo, USDA Wildlife Services, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Friends of River Otters, the Department of Game and Fish, and others.

In August 2006, the State Game 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 native river otters in the state since the 1950s, but recent reports indicate some otters have migrated to Navajo Lake from Colorado, where they were reintroduced in the 1980s.

The Commission action followed 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.

New Mexico native returns after 60-year absence

TAOS – A native New Mexican once found in streams and rivers throughout the state has returned home after a 60-year absence. Five river otters were released today in the waters of the Rio Pueblo De Taos on Taos Pueblo.

The wild otters were trapped and transported from Washington by USDA Wildlife Services and Taos Pueblo as part of a larger otter reintroduction program organized by Taos Pueblo, The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the New Mexico Friends of River Otters, a coalition of citizens, agencies and conservation organizations dedicated to restoring otters to the state.

“Protecting and restoring native wildlife is important to the heritage and ecology of New Mexico, and one of the main roles of the Department of Game and Fish,” Department Director Bruce Thompson said. “Today’s release is a positive first step in an effort to return otters to watersheds across the state.”

River otters are highly social, playful, semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. They are believed to have once inhabited the Gila, upper and middle Rio Grande, Mora, San Juan and Canadian river systems and occasionally were mentioned in the journals of early settlers.

There have been no confirmed sightings of river otters in the state since 1953. Decades of trapping and habitat loss are believed to be two factors in their disappearance. Current regulations require trappers to release any otters caught in traps.

“We are so thrilled to see this species back in New Mexico,” said Linda Rundell, state director for the Bureau of Land Management. “We’re working with partners throughout the state to restore watersheds and wildlife habitat; the icing on the cake comes when we can restore species like the river otter to their rightful place in New Mexico.”

Twenty states, including Arizona, Colorado and Utah have successfully reintroduced river otters. River otters and other predators play important roles in keeping communities of native species robust and diverse.

“We are extremely excited that Taos Pueblo has taken the initiative to ensure that our playful furbearing friends are once again diving and swimming in the Upper Rio Grande Watershed,” said Melissa Savage with the New Mexico Friends of River Otters.

In 2006, the State Game Commission directed the Department of Game and Fish to initiate efforts to restore otters to state waters. A Department study identified several rivers as suitable restoration sites, including the Upper Rio Grande, White Rock Canyon and Middle Rio Chama in the Rio Grande Basin; and the Upper Gila, Lower Gila and Lower San Francisco rivers in the Gila River Basin.  A second, larger release is scheduled on the main stem of the Upper Rio Grande in November.

The New Mexico Friends of River Otters, a coalition of government agencies and conservation organizations, plans to release additional otters. Members include Amigos Bravos, Earth Friends Wild Species Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Four Corners Institute, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.