Trapping in the 21st Century

by Stephen Capra

How is it as a society that in this day and time, understanding as we do the connection between a healthy, vibrant community of wildlife and true biodiversity, that we allow something as unfathomable as trapping? The cruel and twisted nature of this form of legal torture has changed little since its advent, one that defined the early days of our nation.

What remains the true insanity is that as our nation has evolved and positions have matured on race, women and so many other issues of inequality, but our positions on animals and wildlife have evolved at a far slower pace. So that today in New Mexico, being a bobcat is more than a death sentence, it is almost a guarantee that your life will be cut short in a barbarous manner, so that you can be sold for your fur.

We all know the term, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It rings so true on the issue of trapping. We all know the reality of this cruel and sickening action, yet despite all our knowledge and emotions, the Game and Fish Department and the ranching community remain steadfast in their support of the practice. Many sportsmen also remain solid in their support; even though they acknowledge that it is a very cruel fate for any animal.

Some liken it to a tradition. They speak of their connection to nature as though we should simply understand that allowing an animal to wither in pain for hours, days or weeks is somehow something we want to condone or even pass on to a new generation. We seem to allow a giant loophole in the regulations of public lands that forbids killing for profit. Trappers it seems can use the lands, basically put them off-limits for our enjoyment, kill and torture animals and then sell their pelts for profit.

At the last Game and Fish meeting the green light was given to trapping cougars. We know all the wildlife that is impacted by traps, the bycatch of these animals remains tremendous, from eagles to our pets; yet rather than diminish the practice, our commission wants to ramp it up!

As we ponder as a nation our next steps on issues such as climate change and face the stiff and relentless pressure of republican politicians who refuse to even admit its legitimacy, it’s worth noting that as a nation, we remain unable to put the issue of trapping behind us. We continue to fight over whether it should be banned; we fight over the idea that it is a tradition or what animals should be allowed to suffer. Some even argue that the animals do not suffer. This all speaks to the ignorance of man, to the real selfish nature of those that see nature as a place not to revere, but as a place for profit.

That basic concept seems ingrained in our Manifest Destiny mindsets and grinding it out is the challenge we face as we come in contact with our own mortality as a species. Ending trapping is about more than ending suffering. It is about compassion, changing our view of animals from foe to friend. It is about changing ourselves from those who conquer to those willing to share the bounty we have been blessed with. Seeing the forest not for the trees, but rather as a living organism that gives life to wolves, bears, cougars and species as small as ants, a place where man is a visitor, not the owner.

There is a freedom in letting go. If we can begin to see ourselves not as the owner, but as yet another renter of this life giving force, we may begin to better understand the value of the commons. In this shared commons, we are a part of a much larger and more varied unit. Here many species share a space and regulate that space as they have for millions of years. They have done so without our input with a grace and balance that man remains a long way from perfecting.

Endangered Species Act Under Threat/Challenging New Mexico’s War on Wolves, Bears and Cougars

From Project Coyote Newsletter:

Wildlife Killing Contests Featured at Speak for Wolves Conference

In August at the Speak for Wolves Conference in West Yellowstone, Project Coyote Founder and Executive Director Camilla Fox led a team of panelists to discuss the pervasive and cruel practice of “wildlife killing contests” that award prizes to those who kill the most and largest animals including coyotes, bobcats, foxes and even wolves – often on public lands. Conference attendees also got a sneak peek of Project Coyote’s film trailer that will help expose this unconscionable practice and empower citizens to take action to end it.

Watch the Trailer »

Challenging New Mexico’s War on Wolves, Bears and Cougars

In late August, Science Advisor Dave Parsons spoke out on behalf of Project Coyote at a rally and a public hearing as part of a coalition opposing the New Mexico Game Commission’s new rule allowing increases in cougar trapping and bear hunting. The Commission also denied a federal request to release more Mexican Gray Wolves into New Mexico.

Watch the Video »

Federal Endangered Species Act Under Threat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed draconian changes to the long standing regulations for citizen petitions for adding species to the Endangered Species Act’s list of threatened and endangered species. The proposed changes would make it difficult if not impossible for most citizens and conservation organizations to file petitions. Project Coyote will submit a comment letter endorsed by members of our Science Advisory Committee opposing the proposed changes. The deadline for comments is September 18.

Read the Comment Letter

New Mexico’s Native Wolves Need Your Voice

Tell Governor Martinez and her Game Commission: it’s time to end the war on New Mexico’s wolves and other carnivores

Please sign the petition today and stand for wolves and wildlife at the rally and  commission meeting in Santa Fe on Thursday, August 27th!

leader of the pack tim denny

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and her hand picked Game Commission are clearly out of touch with the majority of New Mexico voters, who support wolf recovery.

This is particularly troubling given that Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) recently introduced legislation to remove Mexican gray wolves’ federal Endangered Species Act protections, which would leave them at the mercy of states clearly hostile to their recovery.

Please stand with us for wolves, cougars and bears on August 27th.

In the past few months, the New Mexico Game Commission has repeatedly sought to undermine the recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves, first by denying, without justification, the 17 year old permit for Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch to continue assisting with the Mexican wolf reintroduction and more recently by denying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife a permit to release Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico, which is necessary to boost the wild population’s declining genetic health.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s appeal of the Mexican wolf permit denial is on the agenda for the August 27, 2015 Commission meeting. Members of the public will not be allowed to speak during the Mexican wolf agenda item, but we intend to make our voices heard at a rally at 8:00 am before the meeting begins and to stand in silence for wolves in the meeting during these agenda items.

The commission will also vote on its proposals to allow cougars to be cruelly trapped and to expand bear hunting in NM. Those who wish to speak for cougars and bears should plan to be at the meeting by 8:30 am to fill out speaker cards.


Please join us on August 27th to give wolves, cougars and bears a voice.
NM Game Commission Meeting and Rally
Santa Fe Community College
Jemez Room
6401 Richards Ave.
Santa Fe New Mexico
Click here for map
Got to the west side of the main entrance and gather at the front of the building.
You can see a flagpole at the front entrance as you drive up the hill to the front entrance-go towards the flag.
The rally is at 8 am

Please RSVP for the rally here.

The Game Commission meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.
The bear and cougar rules and wolf agenda items are numbers 7-8
For more information about the rally and meeting, email
You’re also invited to join us for a pre-rally presentation: Key Predators in Wildife

Wolf supporters are invited to learn more and get inspired at an event hosted the night before the rally by conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity,, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Sandia Mountain BearWatch, Southwest Environmental Center and Great Old Broads for Wilderness.

August 26, 2015
Santa Fe, NM
August 26, 2015
6 – 7:30 pm
Santa Fe Public Library Community Room – 2nd Floor
145 Washington Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Michael Robinson from the Center for Biological Diversity will give a Mexican wolf presentation. representatives will introduce the Santa Fe Packtivist program for area wolf activists. Sierra Club’s Mary Katherine Ray will talk about the Game Commission’s proposals to expand bear hunting and cougar trapping.

For more information about this event, email

Middle-Fork-AM871-and-Bear IFT

Download rally/event posters here.

You can also help by signing a petition to the Governor, asking that she and her commission work for, not against, wolf recovery.

Please join us to stand for wolves and other carnivores.

Protect Imperiled Elephants and Wolves


On June 16, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a harmful federal bill that would protect ivory traffickers and open up trophy hunting and commercial trapping of wolves. Some members of Congress slipped language into an annual spending bill that would block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from cracking down on the illegal ivory trade. Approximately one African elephant is poached every fifteen minutes, putting the species on a path toward extinction in our lifetime.

This language would also force the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, resuming the mass killing of wolves in the Great Lakes. The best available science shows that gray wolves, which only occupy a tiny portion of their historic range, need to maintain their federal protections.

Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative today You can say: “I’m a constituent and I would like you to protect wolves and elephants. Please oppose any Interior Appropriations riders that allow the illegal ivory trade in the U.S. to continue unchecked and that remove federal protections for endangered gray wolves.”

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Study finds locals less tolerant of wolves

When the wolves returned, they revived the same old anxieties that inspired the state-sponsored hunts and zealous poachers to originally drive the wolf out. Some locals in the wolf range, anxious about unchecked wolf populations preying on livestock and affecting deer herds, continue to grow less tolerant toward returning wolves.

Four decades ago, wolves were added to the Endangered Species Act, and the once expulsed gray wolf trickled back into the Wisconsin wilderness. Protected by federal law, wolves were allowed to grow and spread out among the wooded north, resulting in a resurgence of a species once considered extirpated from the state.

When the wolves returned, they revived the same old anxieties that inspired the state-sponsored hunts and zealous poachers to originally drive the wolf out. Some locals in the wolf range, anxious about unchecked wolf populations preying on livestock and affecting deer herds, continue to grow less tolerant toward returning wolves. It is a trend that even a state-sponsored wolf hunt could not break, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at UW-Madison.

Led by Jamie Hogberg, a researcher at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the survey looked at public opinion about wolves from before and after the 2012 inaugural wolf hunt. According to a statement made by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the hunt was supposed to improve social intolerance toward the maligned wolf. Yet, according to Hogberg’s study, the harvest may have had the opposite effect, at least among hunters in the wolf range.

“One of the stated goals of the harvest was to maintain social tolerance,” said Hogberg. “But in just that first year of the hunt, we didn’t see that among a key stakeholder group.”

The survey focused primarily on male hunters in the wolf range, outspoken community members who were surveyed in previous studies to see if their attitudes changed. Researchers also surveyed people who reported conflict with wolves and people who lived outside of wolf range, though the majority of respondents were self-identifying hunters living within wolf range.

Hunters fear that wolves, who primarily hunt a deer herd’s weakest members, could be impacting deer herds and reducing hunting opportunities. However, the wolves’ stake in Wisconsin’s deer herd is dwarfed by the 340,000 taken annually by hunters, according to the Wisconsin DNR.

Wolves have been delisted and relisted seven times since 2001, and are once again protected under the Endangered Species Act.   …[for now…]

Read more:


Wolves may be off endangered species list – again


Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing to take Minnesota’s gray wolves off the endangered species list.

Buried in the fiscal 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill is language that would effectively require the secretary of the interior to reissue a federal rule that took gray wolves in the western Great Lakes, which includes Minnesota, off the list.

The bill also stipulates that the action would not be subject to judicial review.

Last year, a federal court decided that Minnesota’s gray wolves should be put back on the endangered species list.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said the provision amounts to “tremendous overreach” because the appropriations bill is meant to fund the Interior Department’s activities, not direct policy decisions.

“The judicial branch exists to provide oversight and review of our nation’s laws, and the idea that this Republican appropriations bill would try to circumvent that constitutionally critical process is wrong,” McCollum said.

McCollum, a Democrat, is on the House Appropriations Committee, and serves as the top Democrat on a subcommittee in charge of the interior and environment funding bill. Work on the legislation starts this week.

Control Cruel Special Interest Groups, Not the Wild Animals.

Letter from Rosemary Lowe to the Albuquerque Journal:
NM Game Dept. Killing Machine
“Mexican Wolves belong on New Mexico lands, but there are special interests within the hunting & livestock industries which have a long history of prejudice about this (& other) wonderful native species. It is time to bring back the Lobo, and give it the priority & protection it needs. These cruel special interest groups need controlling, not the wild291789_400428663360054_2105335387_n animals.
The livestock industry grazes on public lands, at taxpayer expense, denuding & damaging water resources, native grasses, while demanding that the government slaughter native wild animals including wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, & other innocent wildlife: a mindless hatred of so-called “predators.” Many of these species are in decline, despite the “pseudo-science” misinformation from the Game Dept.& other anti-wildlife interests.
Native wild animals are facing further declines as Climate Change worsens, affecting the health of remaining ecosystems, but the Game Dept. continues its antiquated “management” schemes to appease their special interest buddies.
Based upon the anti-wildlife mentality of the Game Dept. it does not belong in the 21st century. It must be abolished, if wildlife is to survive at all.

Arizona sues feds over regulations on Mexican gray wolves


Madeleine Winer, The Republic

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Attorney General’s Office have filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging it has failed to update its Mexican-wolf recovery plan.

The state is asking the secretary of the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a modern plan that would improve Arizona’s involvement in recovery efforts and establish a target number of Mexican wolves for the area.

“If you think about wildlife management, part of what you want is for a target number of animals for there to be a balance in the rest of the biotic community,” said Jim deVos, Arizona Game and Fish Department assistant director for wildlife management. “You don’t want to have too many of the one thing. We want a healthy population of wolves in balance with social, economic and wildlife needs in the state of Arizona.”

The current Mexican-wolf recovery plan, established in 1982, allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain a captive breeding program and re-establish the population with 100 Mexican wolves released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. Currently, deVos said, 109 wolves inhabit Arizona.

The Game and Fish Department claims the 1982 plan fails to identify how many animals would constitute recovery of the population and allow the wolves to be removed from the list of endangered species in the future. For decades, there have been conflicts between ranchers and the wolves.


Speak for Wolves: August 7-9, 2015

August 7-9, 2015
West Yellowstone, Montana

An opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and restore our national heritage.
 film by Predator Defense – a national nonprofit helping people & wildlife coexist since 1990.
Approximately 3500 gray wolves have been slaughtered in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes region in the United States over the last few years. Under state management, wolves have been hounded, baited, trapped, snared and/or killed by hunters in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Wolves have been aerial gunned in Washington and, most recently, shot in Utah.Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2015 is about taking an important step towards stopping the wolf slaughter that is currently taking place across the United States. Learn more

Fortunately for Cougars and Wolves, there’s Only One Washington

From the Capital Press article:

One Washington, two sides

by Don Jenkins    March 26, 2015

OLYMPIA — Residents of Eastern Washington are frustrated with the more populous Westside of the state. And nowhere was that frustration more prominent than one day last month in the Capitol. On the docket were cougars and wolves, two hot-buttoncopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles issues that split the state right down the center of the Cascade Range.

In one hearing, Eastside ranchers were asking senators to loosen the state’s law against using hounds to chase cougars and keep the predators away from livestock.

In another hearing, an Eastside county commissioner told legislators that his constituents were fed up with wolves.                                                                              …

In the weeks since, lawmakers have agreed to take a close look at the wolf problem. The hounds, however, will remain on the leash. …