SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico wildlife officials are preparing a crackdown on visitors who show up at some state lands without the proper permit, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday.
Many residents are still not aware that they must have a Gaining Access into Nature permit, also known as GAIN, to watch wildlife, hike, bike or even take pictures, according to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
GAIN permits are mandatory for anyone above the age of 18 who wants to engage in recreation on State Game Commission wildlife management areas. These designated areas include Pecos Canyon, Bear Canyon and more than a dozen other properties around New Mexico. The permits costs $20 each and are good for one year. Temporary five-day GAIN permits are also available for $9. The permit includes a fee for habitat management and vendors.
Anyone caught recreating without a GAIN permit or license for hunting, fishing or trapping can be fined or jailed. Fines range from $50 to $500 and jail time can go up to six months.
The permit requirement was first enacted in 2009, but game officers say the public still needs to be educated about compliance.
Lance Cherry, a department spokesman, said officers have become more stringent since summer 2013.
“Those individuals that ignored properly posted prohibitions or officer requests for voluntary compliance could receive citations,” Cherry said.
Some sportsmen in Pecos recently criticized the permit. They say licensed hunters and anglers shouldn’t have to buy yet another permit for a friend or family member who wants to tag along but not participate.
Joel Gay, a spokesman for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said he has heard few complaints.
“Hunters and anglers pay 100 percent of the cost of managing the state’s wildlife conservation,” Gay said. “In general, we like the idea that anyone who enjoys wildlife pay a little something toward managing it.”
The state estimated that revenue from GAIN permit fees would bring in between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. But between July 1, 2013, and June 20, the department has only collected a little more than $9,000. Officers handed out 17 citations in that period. All fee money goes toward a state game protection fund.