New Mexico Game Commissioner David Soules died late last week, the state Department of Game and Fish announced Tuesday.
Soules, 63, died unexpectedly Friday night, the agency said in a news release. It did not cite a cause of death.
The department described Soules as an outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting and fishing.
“We are heartbroken and saddened,” Sharon Salazar Hickey, chairwoman of the State Game Commission, said in the statement. “David had the deepest passion and advocacy for hunting, wildlife and the outdoors."
Salazar said Soules won the respect of hunters and non-hunters alike. He helped negotiate an easement, or access agreement, involving hunters and fishermen and the managers of certain state trust areas, the department said.
He also had interest in the Mexican gray wolf recovery program and supported efforts to assist threatened and endangered species.
He co-authored a book, Exploring Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and had a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University.
Family members could not be reached for comment on Soules.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy; sons Kevin and Keith; brother Bill Soules, a state senator; sister Merrie Lee Soules; and two grandchildren.