New Mexico

New Mexico

Historically, cougars were managed as varmint in New Mexico and they could be killed at any time, with no limit. That changed in 1971 when they were granted game animal status.

The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish states that a variety of hunting structures over the years has evolved into the current dual hunting season of year-long seasons (April – March) on private lands and a 6 month (October – March) season on public lands. The bag limit is one cougar; exceptions include a two cougar bag limit and yearlong seasons on public lands in certain management units. In 1999, the Department initiated a zone management structure with harvest limits, which continues today.

In September 2006, the New Mexico Game Commission (NMGC) voted to reduce the number of cougars that hunters could kill. Population estimates are now based on habitat mapping specific to cougars. NMGC personnel evaluate the age and sex of cougars killed to estimate cougar population health. If the percentage of cougars killed in any unit is 20% or more for two years in a row, female sub-quotas may be implemented. The Department continues to look at habitat-based models for improved precision and management utility.

As of 2010, NMDGF estimated there were between 3,123 and 4,269 independent, adult cougars in the state.

Current Advocacy Opportunities:

Check our Policy Watch page

Past Advocacy Opportunities:

The statewide cougar season runs year-round, beginning on April 1 and ending on March 31 of the following year. Hounds are permitted.

During the 2013-2014 season, 201 cats were killed, 83 of which were females. The quota for the 2014-2015 season is 749 cats, with a female subquota of 303. Given recent trends, the quota is extremely unlikely to be met.

New Mexico is one of six states (in addition to Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming) that provides cougar-specific hunter education in order to help hunters better identify the age/sex of a cougar and reduce incidental/illegal mortality.

  • Proceedings of the 11th Mountain Lion Workshop

     • The Cougar Fund

    Proceedings of the 11th Mountain Lion Workshop
    Integrating Scientific Findings into Management
    Hunter Conference Center, Southern Utah University
    Cedar City, Utah
    May 12‐15, 2014

  • Integrating Values and Ethics into Wildlife Policy and Management—Lessons from North America

     • The Cougar Fund

    Fox and Bekoff (2011)

    Abstract: Few animals provoke as wide a range of emotions as wolves. Some see wolves as icons of a lost wilderness; others see them as intruders. As the battle continues between wolf proponents and opponents, finding solutions that resolve conflicts while supporting the integrity of nature is challenging. In this essay we argue that we need to make room for wolves and other native carnivores who are re-colonizing areas from which they were extirpated. Strategies that foster coexistence are necessary and wildlife agencies must consider all stakeholders and invest adequate resources to inform the public about how to mitigate conflicts between people/domestic animals, and predators. Values and ethics must be woven into wildlife policy and management and we must be willing to ask difficult ethical questions and learn from past mistakes.