EPLUS is vitally important to rural economies in New Mexico

Elk live in the rural areas of New Mexico.  These rural areas are poor relative to the more populated counties of New Mexico.

  • Elk herds occupy both public and private lands at different times of the year.
  • Wildlife biologists in NMDGF determine the number of hunting licenses for a given GMU based on elk population dynamics, not on hunters’ demands for elk licenses!
  • The total number of elk hunting licenses for a GMU are allocated to public and private land based on the ratio of public land acres / private land acres in the GMU.
  • Supply and demand.  There are more hunters than there are elk licenses — this results in a very competitive draw for licenses on public land and high ask prices for elk licenses on private land. High demand for private land licenses drives high prices.
    • Remember that the number of elk licenses is based on wildlife biology and careful elk population management.
    • One of the native New Mexico elk species, Merriam’s Elk (Cervus Canadensis merriami), went extinct around 1900, and the Rocky Mountain Elk subspecies (Cervus Canadensis nelsoni) were extirpated from New Mexico due to overhunting1
    • We cannot increase the number of elk hunting licenses and ignore scientific elk population management.
  • Wealthy, often non-resident, hunters who can afford to pay the high prices for private land licenses to spend significant money in the impoverished rural communities where they hunt.  New Mexico wants to attract wealthy spenders to our impoverished rural communities!
  • The high prices obtained for private land authorizations provide a strong incentive for landowners to keep their lands intact, providing vital habitat for New Mexico’s elk.

Elk hunting is a strong economic driver in New Mexico. Elk hunters contribute significant economic inputs to the rural counties of New Mexico.2

The ratio of public to private land varies between counties and Game Management Units (GMUs) in New Mexico.  In some Game Management Units, like GMU 4 in the Chama area, there are a lot of elk, not much public land, and a low-income rural economy.  EPLUS allows an important economic input to these low-income rural areas by attracting hunters to elk herds that frequent private lands.  EPLUS-authorized hunters, both resident and non-resident, spend money locally during their hunts and scouting trips in these low-income communities.

To assess the economic impact of EPLUS on rural communities in New Mexico, we analyze economic impact data at the county level from elk hunting.3

EPLUS provides positive economic inputs to low-income rural communities of New Mexico by:

  1. Attracting hunters to the local communities to hunt elk on private lands.
  2. Providing supplemental income to landowners in the EPLUS system who can sell private land elk license authorizations to hunters.
  3. Providing local low-income residents with the ability to “fill their freezers” with elk meat.
  4. Providing a source of revenue for landowners to offset the costs of managing their farms and ranches in the presence of elk herds.
  5. Generating strong New Mexico gross receipts and lodging tax bases for state and local government services.
  1. Olaus J Murie, “The Elk of North America (Wildlife Management Institute Classics), Stackpole Books; First Edition (September 15, 2017)
  2. In 2013, hunters spent $342M ($437M in 2022 dollars) in New Mexico. Source: “The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013:  A statewide and county-level analysis,” Southwick Associates, July 31, 2014
  3. The economic data we use for elk hunting is from “The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013:  A statewide and county-level analysis,” Southwick Associates, July 31, 2014.  This analysis did not account for the revenues landowners acquired from selling EPLUS authorizations on the open market.  It also may not have accounted for direct and indirect inputs to local economies from hunters using EPLUS private land licenses during their hunting trips