New Mexico ranchers and landowners have filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish over elk-related issues. The group includes 8 different landowners that hold lands near the Gila Forest. The ranchers claim that the NMDGF is doing nothing to protect their lands from the ever-growing elk herds.
“Well you can sell those permits anywhere from $10,000 to $18,000 is what they’re going for, in the 16D permits which I’m in the unit. That would help fix fences and help me buy feed.” – Zeno Kiehne, A plaintiff on the lawsuit.
Managing Elk Herds on Private Lands
The elk enter the private lands and destroy fences in the area. Likewise, the ranchers claim that they eat all the available feed and destroy water holes. The landowners claim that they have reached out multiple times to the NMDGF to try and use the EPLUS program. The EPLUS program gives licenses to landowners who have large elk herds on their properties. The ranchers also claim that their pleas for help have gone unanswered by the Dept. One landowner even claims that he has been denied access to the EPLUS program every year for the last 16 years. The ranchers believe that if they were given permits via the EPLUS program that they would be able to reduce the size of the herd. Likewise, the landowners hope to recoup some finical losses by selling the permits for the elk that reside on the property.
“It’s thousands of dollars because not only do they tear the fences down and eat our feed, we have to replace that feed for our cattle, and like I said, I had 100 head of cattle. My dad had 100 head of cattle on the farm and now I’m down to 22 head.” – Zeno Kiehne, A plaintiff on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is asking for restitution due to damages caused by the elk. It also asks for extra money to be given to the landowners because the NMDGF is using their land without proper compensation. The property in question resides in the trophy elk unit of 16D.
As of last week, NMDGF has made no comment on the lawsuit.