UPDATED 8/28: The state Game Commission has voted unanimously to approve the expansion of cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico.
The vote came Thursday during a meeting in Santa Fe that was attended by dozens of wildlife advocates who voiced concerns about the proposal.
The new rules will allow for more black bear hunting in all but two of the state's game management districts as well as the doubling of cougar hunting limits. The trapping and snaring of cougars on private land and state trust land will also be allowed without special permits.
The Game and Fish Department says new population data warranted an update of the hunting limits.
Critics argued that the department's plan wasn't based on science and that more hunting will have negative long-term effects on animal populations.
The State Game Commission is considering several controversial new rules, including one that would allow hunters to kill 25 percent more bears in New Mexico. Wildlife conservation advocates are planning to protest at the commission meeting on Thursday in Santa Fe. At issue is how to interpret the state’s bear density study.