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When asked about accusations that the National Park Service would shut down hunting in Valles Caldera National Preserve if it came under NPS management, Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Jason Lott was unequivocal.
“In every discussion that I’ve participated in with the National Park Service, hunting has been seen as a value. There are no movements or discussion about limiting hunting up there,” Lott said.
“I would anticipate that it would be managed consistent with the way other federal lands are managed in New Mexico. Optimally, we would want to work with Game and Fish to make the best hunting and to maintain the resources at the Valles Caldera to the highest standards.
Lott’s opinion about the importance of hunting was nearly identical to that of New Mexico Game and Fish Director Jim Lane.
“There are not many predators on the elk herd, and without predators, we don’t have a way to manage that herd. Hunting is probably the best tool out there.”
Lott anticipates the only restrictions would be to areas such as the visitor center or campgrounds and for managing the number of people in an area at any given time.
“It’s 90,000 acres. I would think the overwhelming majority of that would be available for hunting. It’s the high use areas, where you have a high concentration of people in there, that you would want to consider some sort of restrictions,” Lott said.
“We want to avoid having 800 hunters coming on the same weekend. What we would want to do is manage it so that it’s actually better hunting if there are only so many hunters in the preserve at one time.
“So we’d want people to fish, we’d want people to hunt, we’d want people to camp and hike, and we’d want to manage all those activities so they support one another and support the overall visitor experience.”