A bill to ban most trapping of animals on public lands in New Mexico probably is going nowhere this year because it’s caught in a clash between ranchers and advocates for animals. The bill stalled Tuesday in a Senate committee, prompting the sponsor to say he does not expect to reach a compromise in the last four weeks of this 60-day session. That means the practice of trapping in public forests is likely to continue for at least another year. “I believe it’s going to take much more time than a couple of days,” Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, said after the Senate Conservation Committee asked that he rewrite parts of Senate Bill 286. The bill would outlaw setting traps to capture or kill animals on public land.
A House committee Tuesday declined to approve legislation to relax a state requirement that any wild animal that attacks a human be killed so it can be tested for rabies, citing testimony from health and wildlife officials who argued the change would pose a significant risk to public health and safety. The state requirement drew a harsh national spotlight last summer after a marathon runner was attacked by a black bear in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. State officials tracked the bear, which wore a collar as part of a study, and euthanized it, sending its brain to a lab for rabies testing, as required by a Health Department regulation. The tests were negative. The marathoner, Karen Williams, a nurse, was clawed and bitten.
A fee paid to the New Mexico Land Office by the Game and Fish Department that allows hunters to access public land may increase by $800,000. State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has contended that the previous amount of $200,000 was too low. A press release from Dunn’s office stated that Dunn and Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Alexa Sandoval agreed on a $1 million easement fee. The agreement still needs to be approved by the Department of Game and Fish Commission. In a written statement, Dunn said the increased fee will help pay for other programs around the state.