I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Game and Fish chief moves on after hunting flap (updated)
When Bruce Thompson, director of the state Game and Fish Department, illegally shot a deer on private land last year, it appears he may have had collateral damage — himself.
Gov. Bill Richardson announced in a news release today that Thompson had taken “another job in state government,” and that Deputy Director Tod Stevenson would take over until a permanent replacement is found. The governor’s office later said Stevenson’s appointment is permanent.
Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the governor did not remove Thompson from office and in fact told Thompson to go through the same steps as any hunter would after being charged with hunting illegally.
“The governor expected Director Thompson to go through the process like anyone else would, and that’s what happened,” Gallegos said.
Thompson was cited for shooting a deer on private land west of Roswell last November. He has said he thought he was on federal land and made an honest mistake. He initially contested the charge, but later changed his plea to no contest and was fined $500.
State game wardens — members of the New Mexico Conservation Officers Association — called for Thompson to step down, saying in a letter that his initial decision to plead not guilty was a “slap in the face” to game officers.
In September, a hearing officer said Thompson should have known he was on private land — he had maps and a GPS unit — and recommended he lose his hunting privileges for two years. The state Game Commission concurred.
Thompson tendered his resignation Wednesday. Later this month, he will become the Coordinator for Land Conservation, Habitat Corridors and Wildlife Adaptation for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.
He had been the Game and Fish Department director since 2003 and his sudden exit surprised at least one member of the state’s hunting community. Jeremy Vesbach, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said his group never took a position on Thompson or his hunting incident and didn’t have any comment on his move.
However, he said, sportsmen are glad to see Stevenson named to the interim post. “Tod is an old hand, a longtime Game and Fish employee who is well-respected,” Vesbach said