AP NEWS

New Mexico courts deem hunter information as public record

March 20, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Game and Fish Department has been ordered to release information about hunters to individuals who sought the records as part of separate court cases.

A state district judge is ordering the agency to turn over the names and addresses of those who won big game draws between 2015 and 2019 to a Los Alamos County resident who had petitioned the court for the information.

In the second case, the state Court of Appeals said the email addresses of individuals who applied for hunting licenses between 2015 and 2016 must be turned over to former Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The agency said Thursday that both courts concluded that information collected from the public in connection with the administration of the agency’s public duties fall within the definition of public records and are subject to disclosure.

“The department argued against the release, but ultimately lost,” Game and Fish Director Michael Sloane said. “We value the privacy of our customers’ personal information but recognize that is the courts’ interpretation of the current IPRA law.”

The department said it wanted to notify its customers that the information was being released and offered the number of the state attorney general’s complaint hotline in case anyone is harassed by solicitors or others as a result of the disclosure.

In 2017, Dunn had requested the names and email addresses of more than 300,000 applicants for New Mexico hunting licenses. James Whitehead of Los Alamos had requested draw results, names and addresses of all successful applicants and units applied for and units drawn.

The agency provided names to Dunn, but denied the additional requests by both parties. That led to lawsuits alleging violations of the state’s public records law.