Press release: N.M. hunter education certifies 1,402 students

New Mexico’s Hunter Education Program certified 1,402 students in
March as young hunters scrambled to become eligible for the April 8
application deadline for 2009-2010 big-game hunting licenses and
permits.

Since Jan. 1, more than 2,200 students have successfully completed
the course, which is taught mostly by volunteer instructors trained by
Department staff. Instructors have spent more than 8,800 hours teaching
hunter education this year, including almost 5,600 hours in March alone.

By law, anyone younger than 18 must have passed an approved hunter
education course to hunt with a firearm in New Mexico. Free classes are
offered statewide to students of all ages. The standard course is 16
hours, usually taught over a weekend. Shorter, “alternative delivery”
courses also are offered, and an online course is in the works.

The mandatory hunter education law has had a tremendous impact on
numbers of hunting-related accidents and fatalities since it took
effect in 1976. In 1975, the Department reported 27 non-fatal and 6
fatal hunting-related accidents. Those numbers fell to 15 accidents and
no fatalities the following year. In 2007 there were no accidents, and
in 2008 there were two accidents, one of them a fatality.

“This is a great accomplishment for the 600 instructors who
volunteer their time to make hunting a safe sport,” said Mark
Birkhauser, hunter education coordinator for the Department. “Because
of hunter education programs across the country, hunting is safer than
swimming, boating and even golf, according to the National Safety
Council.”

The Department certifies about 3,500 students a year, the majority
of them ages 11-14. Many adults sign up for the classes, usually to
qualify for hunter education requirements in other states, but often to
hone their safety skills while accompanying their sons and daughters.
Special bow hunter education courses also are offered.

To find a hunter education class in your area, please visit the Department Web site at www.wildlife.state.nm.us and click on the Education tab, or call (505) 222-4731.

The Department always welcomes more hunter education instructors.
Instructors must complete a current hunter education course and an
orientation workshop. For more information about becoming an
instructor, please call (505) 222-4722.

PEREGRINE FALCON APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE THROUGH APRIL 17

SANTA FE —- The Department of Game and Fish will accept
applications April 8-17 from master falconers interested in taking
unfledged peregrine falcons.

The Department offers two peregrine-take permits each year. Only
New Mexico resident master falconers are eligible for the drawing.
Master falconers must have completed an apprenticeship and have at
least seven years experience. Currently, there are approximately 46
master falconers in New Mexico.

Successful applicants must meet several requirements, including
limiting their take to specific areas, informing officials of nest
sites before the take, providing exact GPS coordinates of the site,
providing detailed photographs of the site, and other requirements. The
requirements will provide data for future peregrine falcon management
in New Mexico.

To apply, and for more information, please call Letitia Mee, the
Department’s special-use permits manager, (505) 476-8064. Application
forms are available on the Department Web site at http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/apps_permit/documents/raptor_entry_1-29.pdf