Pearce says he’d let veterans hunt, fish for free in New Mexico

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Pearce says he’d let veterans hunt, fish for free in New Mexico


Post by NHGF [Feed] » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:59 am

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce wants to unleash New Mexico veterans into the state’s wide-open spaces.

The congressman from Hobbs this week said his administration would grant free fishing and hunting licenses to every honorably discharged veteran living in the state as part of his veterans’ issues platform.

Pearce, himself an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, also said he would guarantee a deer tag to every New Mexico veteran who wants to hunt one.

“Instead of selling all of the tags to out-of-staters for just a few shekels, a few dollars, we’re going to start serving the people who served us,” Pearce said. “It’s a small sign. It’s a symbol of respect.”

An annual resident fishing license costs $25, and an annual resident hunting license costs $15, according to the state Department of Game and Fish.

There are 158,994 veterans in the state as of this year, according to the state Department of Veterans Services. (A department spokesman said neither the state nor the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tracks how many have been honorably or dishonorably discharged.)

The total value of a hunting and fishing license for every New Mexico veteran would be $6.4 million.

Game and Fish staff could not immediately say how many deer tags are made available annually, but a hunter must apply for a license and win an annual draw to receive one. According to the agency site, the big-game draw “attempts to distribute” a majority of licenses to in-state residents.

Joe Loisel, a U.S. Army veteran who was formerly president of the United Veterans Council of New Mexico, said that while he’s neither a hunter nor a fisherman, “I think it’s a great thing [Pearce] is doing — it’s 100 percent right.”

Asked to elaborate, he added, “Put it this way: Take several years out of your life, get into a combat zone, then you could come talk to me about why it’s a good idea.”

Currently, the state Game and Fish department grants a 50 percent discount on all licenses and permits to active-duty military and veterans.

“We have massive, tremendous opportunities for just personal leisure and pleasure here” in New Mexico, Pearce said. “We’re going to see that our veterans get access to those services, those capabilities.”

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham has not yet released a platform addressing veterans issues, but a spokesman for the Albuquerque congresswoman’s campaign said one will be forthcoming.

Pearce’s proposals for veterans, which he announced at a news conference Tuesday, include a post-traumatic stress disorder task force and a statement that he will work to end veteran homelessness and advocate for female veterans.

He also said he would support a 100 percent personal income tax exemption for uniformed service retirees and “widowed spouses.”

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