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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Helps Game and Fish with Hunting License Lottery

LAS CRUCES More than 90,000 hunters who applied for hunting licenses in New Mexico are hoping to be one of the lucky winners in the Department of Game and Fish's lottery. New Mexico State University is helping make sure the odds are the same for all applicants.


NMSU's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit conducted the special hunts' public license draw this year, said Roberta Salazar-Henry, assistant director of support services with the Department of Game and Fish. The research unit developed computer programs to accurately and fairly select recipients of hunting licenses.

Hunting in New Mexico is a major industry for some people, Salazar-Henry said. We've got outfitters and guides whose whole livelihoods depend on whether clients are selected or not.

The key to this whole process is fairness. It's a luck-of- the-draw system, said Bruce Thompson, research unit leader. The only information we get from the Department of Game and Fish includes coded records of each applicant for the various special hunts. We can't attach any kind of individual recognition to that.

The Department of Game and Fish is responsible for managing an array of wildlife in New Mexico, including elk, javelina, deer, pronghorn antelope and other species. Computer programs go over each application, taking into account the different categories selected.

For example, hunters can apply for a license to hunt elk in up to four categories, Salazar-Henry said. The program randomly draws an applicant based on the hunt code selected and whether the person is a resident or a nonresident. Only 22 percent of licenses are allowed to nonresidents, because there is a mandatory quota on elk licenses for nonresidents.

In the past, not enough time was invested in ensuring that the selection process was done accurately, Salazar-Henry said. It was extremely important that we check everything, including the results, to put the hunters minds at ease about their chances at being selected.

The cooperative research unit exists, in part, as a partnership with the Department of Game and Fish. We're helping the department meet its statutory obligation to provide a fair process that adheres to the quotas for tag issuance, Thompson said. We also believe we're helping select and issue special licenses in an efficient and effective manner.