The State Legislature of New Mexico in its First Session of 2012 made a number of new restrictions on nonresidents to become effective in 2012.
The Legislature amended the special drawings for licenses that had long provided that 22% of the licenses should be issued to nonresidents, with 12% going to nonresidents who were to be guided by a New Mexico outfitter, and the remaining 10% to those not required to be guided by a New Mexico outfitter or guide. It now limits the licenses to no more than 16%, if that, by providing 10% of the licenses for both residents and nonresidents who are contracted with a New Mexico outfitter prior to the application, and 6% to nonresidents who are not required to be contracted with an outfitter. The legislative provision specifies that “a minimum of 84% of the licenses shall be issued to residents of New Mexico.” It does provide that leftovers can be sold to nonresidents after first offering the licenses to residents.
The new legislation also provides that special draw antlerless elk hunts “shall be exclusively for New Mexico residents” and “hunts on all state wildlife management areas shall be allocated exclusively to New Mexico residents.” The effective date of the Amendment, Chapter 17 NMSA 1978, is April 1, 2012. The new law can be found at http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/11%20regular/bills/senate/SB0196FCS.html.
These new restrictions on nonresident hunters are probably lawful, but the preference for “New Mexico outfitters” is not. Discrimination against outfitters from out-of-state is no doubt a violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the US Constitution. Too many cases have held that a state can’t discriminate against outfitters or guides that ply their trade interstate.
We cite this development in the long term trend to protect resident over nonresident recreational hunters for information purposes only. Conservation Force is no longer championing nonresident rights on private or public land since Congress spoke on the issue, in effect giving states unlimited authority to discriminate by stating so in an emergency fiscal measure.