Primary Elk Management Zone

The Primary Management Zone (PMZ) is where the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) actively manages elk populations and EPLUS authorizations.

In the Primary Management Zone:

  • The number and type of private-land elk authorizations available to landowners are limited and controlled through regulation.
  • Elk authorizations are issued to qualifying landowners using a habitat scoring system.
    • Landowners in the Primary Zone can apply for EPLUS consideration between September and January 5 each year.
    • Properties must exhibit regular elk use and are further evaluated (scored) on different habitat characteristics.
    • Evaluations are made by a committee consisting of local biologists and conservation officers.
    • The application review process is normally finished by the end of May.
  • Qualifying ranches will be included in the authorization allocation process for the license year they applied.
  • Authorizations in the Primary Zone are typically issued in late May.
  • All participating ranches enrolled in the Primary Zone will automatically receive an Annual Agreement in December to continue participation in the program for the following year.
A map of the New Mexico Elk Management Zones and Game Management Units

Here is a map of elk management zones in New Mexico. The Primary Management Zones(PMZ) and Special Management Zones (SPZ) are areas where the NMDGF closely tracks and manages elk populations. Secondary Management Zones (SMZs) are any areas outside the PMZ or SPZ with no specific elk management goals. In the SMZ, private land licenses are unlimited and available over-the-counter (OTC) to hunters with a Ranch Code from a landowner registered with the department.

Source NMDGF.  Please see the official Elk Rule and EPLUS Rule.

Fraction of Private Land in the Primary and Special Elk Management Zone Game Management Units

The fraction of private land for each Game Management Unit (GMU) in Primary Management Zones is shown in this map. The Primary Management Zone (PMZ) is where the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) actively manages elk herds to remain within predetermined population metrics and monitors herd productivity to determine license allocations. The total number of elk licenses issued in each GMU is divided between the public draw and the EPLUS (private land system) based on the ratio of public to private land in the GMU1.  (Note that in 2022 GMU 46 was reclassified from the Special Management Zone to the Secondary Management Zone).

Interactive Concept Map of Primary Management Zones

The following concept map organizes the information on Primary [Elk] Management Zones in New Mexico for EPLUS, allowing one to drill down into the details.

Please scroll to the lower right corner of this map and adjust the scale to view the map best.  Branches in the map can be expanded or contracted as needed by clicking on the “-” symbol at the nodes.

For the definitive official laws, codes, and rules, please see NMAC 19.31.14, Elk Rule and NMAC 19.30.5.1 Private Land Elk Allocation (EPLUS Rule)

  1. NMDGF, 2021 New Mexico Elk Hunting Prospects and Population Summary