Thousands ask commission to ban traps on public land

Coyote Trapped

Mary Katherine Ray, Chapter Wildlife Chair
In response to a trapping rule review, thousands of petition signatures, e-mails, and letters have been sent to New Mexico Game and Fish asking that leg-hold traps, snares and other body-crushing traps be prohibited from New Mexico’s public lands.

A myriad of problems plague the practice of trapping in New Mexico, including: cruelty and animal-welfare concerns; the state’s failure to account for and mitigate against the numbers of species trapped; the absence of conservation plans; and the resulting threat imposed on wildlife populations by the demands of the fur market. Traps are indiscriminate and put non-target wildlife and hikers at risk. Trappers have failed to comply with reporting requirements, and no one is monitoring them to ensure traps are checked daily.

Now, the Department of Game and Fish has scheduled the Game Commission meeting at which commissioners will be presented with their proposals for a vote on July 21 in Clayton, N.M., a small town practically on the Oklahoma border, hundreds of miles from any large population center, ensuring that there will be as little public participation and scrutiny as possible at this hearing.

In response to our petitions, however, the Department, as required when a “substantive number” of comments are received, has included a “citizen’s alternative” that prohibits traps from all of New Mexico’s public land. Nevertheless, the Department had made it clear that it does not support this alternative in spite of the tremendous public outpouring. Moreover, it recommends abolishing the trap ban in the Gila as well. The Cooperative Research unit that was contracted to study the potential for different types of traps to harm wolves has concluded its study, but so far, it is not being made available to the public. Game Commissioners will be voting without the public having access to the findings.

The agency has made it clear that the outpouring from the general public is not worthy of consideration compared to its trapper clientele.

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