Trapping bill highlights state’s urban/rural divide

Mary Katherine Ray has seen traps up close. One caught the leg of her dog Greta while they were hiking. “I will never forget the sound of Greta’s screaming,” Ray told a New Mexico legislative committee on Thursday. It was a story lawmakers heard over and over again — a story of beautiful days outdoors […]

Trapping bill highlights state’s urban/rural divide

Mary Katherine Ray has seen traps up close.

One caught the leg of her dog Greta while they were hiking.

“I will never forget the sound of Greta’s screaming,” Ray told a New Mexico legislative committee on Thursday.

It was a story lawmakers heard over and over again — a story of beautiful days outdoors turned bloody by traps lurking in the brush.

Animal welfare advocates and others are renewing a years-long effort to ban trapping on public lands in New Mexico. And with House Bill 366, lawmakers are reigniting a visceral debate over the humane treatment of animals and deep-rooted traditions.

Critics argue that banning trapping on public land will not stop the sort of illegal trapping that usually spurs outrage.

Trappers legally are supposed to get a license from the state, mark their traps with an identifying number and abide by rules about where they can place their traps.

Banning the practice, ranchers say, will only deprive them of a method that is key to defending their cattle from predators such as coyotes.

Joseph Luna, president of the New Mexico Trappers Association, addresses the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee in opposition of House Bill 366 on Thursday, February 7, 2019. The bill would provide restrictions on the use of animal traps, snares and poisons on public land.

“This bill is government overreach and hinders cattle growers from protecting their livestock,” said Randell Major, president of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association.

In turn, ranchers say banning the practice would amount to one more blow at a way of life many of them already view as under threat.

But proponents of the ban argue that trapping has been ineffective, pointing to the coyote’s spread across North America.

Neighboring Arizona and Colorado have already banned trapping on public lands. And a range of groups, such as hikers, birders, and search-and-rescue teams, have raised concerns about the dangers of allowing the practice on public lands in New Mexico.

“Wildlife management needs to advance in New Mexico. We’re not controlling coyotes with these methods,” said former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, chairman of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.

When the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources took testimony from the public about the issue on Thursday, however, the biggest argument against trapping was simply that it is cruel.

In a packed hearing room, critics of trapping recounted stories like Ray’s of dogs or people caught in traps.

House Bill 366 has become known as Roxy’s Law, in honor of an 8-year-old heeler mix strangled in a trap last month at Santa Cruz Lake.

But perhaps more than any other bill in the Legislature this year, the proposed law reveals the divide between urban and rural New Mexico.

Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, has convened groups from opposing sides of the issue during the last couple years to try to forge some sort of consensus. He proposed a ban a couple years ago that foundered in Legislature and recalls how divisive the issue was. So, this year, he has Senate Bill 390, which would ensure the state game commission can address issues of trapping on public land.

But groups including Animal Protection Voters are rallying behind House Bill 366, sponsored by Reps. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, and Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Taos.

McQueen put forward a series of mostly technical changes when the bill got its first hearing on Thursday, ensuring the law would not apply to corral traps, for example, or to tribal governments or spay-and-neuter programs that catch and release feral cats.

The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Saturday.

While the bill is likely to make it out of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, trapping bans have faltered in the Senate in the past, leaving its outlook uncertain.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the New Mexico Environment Department nearly $19 million to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water.…
Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

One hundred years ago, conservationist Aldo Leopold proposed designating 500,000 acres of land in the Gila National Forest as an area where no roads…

A rare NM lizard is now listed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the dunes sagebrush lizard to the list of endangered species on Friday and is expected to designate…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth The State Ethics Commission on Friday sued a dark money group and its president, Jeff Apodaca, to force disclosure…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth The State Ethics Commission on Friday sued a dark money group and its president, Jeff Apodaca, to force disclosure…
EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the New Mexico Environment Department nearly $19 million to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water.…
State putting pressure on firms that manage Medicaid to help solve behavioral health access problems

State putting pressure on firms that manage Medicaid to help solve behavioral health access problems

By Gabrielle Porter, The Santa Fe New Mexican New Mexico’s Medicaid middlemen need more skin in the game. That’s the message from Human Services…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report