Legislation to prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public lands across New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
New Mexico Trapping Ban Clears First Legislative HurdleMore
BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation to prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public lands across New Mexico cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.Recommended VideosPowered by AnyClipThis 250-Pound Bear Somehow Got Trapped In A Water Tank2KPlay Videohttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.438.0_en.html#goog_1034702787NOW PLAYINGThis 250-Pound Bear Somehow Got Trapped In A Water TankWatch: Cops Save Hawk Trapped In A NetCamera Traps In One Of The World’s Most Remote Areas Capture Dazzling AnimalsThis Gecko Has Been Trapped In Amber For 54 Million YearsHummingbird-Sized Dinosaur Found Trapped In Amber For 99 Million Years
Environmentalists and animal advocacy groups testified on behalf of the measure during a Senate committee meeting Tuesday, saying that New Mexico needs to join neighboring states and ban what they described as a cruel and outdated practice.
Rural residents and wildlife conservation officers said trapping remains an important tool for managing wildlife and protecting livestock. They pointed to changes adopted last year by the state Game Commission after a lengthy public process, saying lawmakers should give the trapping rules a chance to work before imposing a sweeping ban.
Under the rules, trappers have to complete an education course and restrictions were imposed on setting traps and snares around designated trailheads and on select tracts of public lands in New Mexico.
Designed largely to reduce the hazard of traps to hikers and their dogs, the prohibitions include mountainous areas east of Albuquerque, along with swaths of national forest along highways leading to ski areas near Santa Fe and Taos. In the southern part of the state, it includes the eastern portion of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument.
“The concerns that have been expressed over the years by the Legislature and by members of the urban public have actually already been resolved,” said Kerrie Cox Romero with the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. “This bill provides no recognition of that effort.”
Cox Romero said much of the land that would be affected by the bill is remote and rarely sees human activity other than trappers.
Supporters of the legislation argued that several pet dogs have been injured despite last year’s rule changes and that more needs to be done to ensure public safety given New Mexico’s push to increase outdoor recreation.
Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces, said he was hiking over the weekend and saw many others doing the same.
“Traps on public lands pose a threat to our members and all public land users,” he told lawmakers. “They’re like land mines basically waiting to harm whatever unfortunate creature happens to step on them — whether it’s a wild animal or pet dog or a horse carrying a rider or god forbid a human being.”
Supporters also raised concerns about traps hampering efforts in southwestern New Mexico to restore the endangered Mexican gray wolf.
Jessica Johnson, chief government affairs officer for Animal Protection Voters, said there was an effort to consider the concerns of ranchers and sportsmen when drafting the legislation and exceptions were included for private and tribal land. The bill also would allow federal and state wildlife managers to use nonlethal traps to deal with problem predators.
Violating provisions of the proposed trapping ban would amount to a misdemeanor.
The measure must be considered by another committee before reaching the full Senate for a vote.
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