Albuquerque Journal

Revamp Game Commission


And another one bites the dust. Last week Game Commission Chair Deanna Archuleta quit after two weeks on the job. (She’d been on the commission for a year, vice chair for half.) Archuleta said she found her work and family responsibi­lities meant she no longer had time for the commission.

She joins ex-commission­ers Jeremy Vesbach, a lifelong profession­al conservati­on advocate removed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2022; Roberta Salazar-Henry, who resigned last year; and Joanna Prukop, a wildlife biologist who worked 25 years at N.M. Game and Fish and was not reappointe­d by the governor in 2019. Three seats are now open, making a quorum challengin­g.

So pardon us for raising an eyebrow to Archuleta’s claim “my hope was to create some stability. I feel like I was able to do that to some extent.”

The fact is New Mexico depends heavily on outdoor recreation, and that needs proper land and game management based on science. Yet the seven commission members are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the governor, can be dismissed without cause and bizarrely are not required to have any expertise in wildlife conservati­on.

That’s why House Bill 184 deserves serious considerat­ion. Its reforms include having the Legislatur­e appoint four of the commission­ers; setting qualificat­ions ranging from farmer/rancher to hunter/angler to wildlife scientist; and allowing removal only if a commission­er shows incompeten­ce, negligence or malfeasanc­e in the role.

Game commission­ers are entrusted with managing and protecting public land and wildlife on behalf of the residents of New Mexico. It’s past time the law let them.

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