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NM Lawmakers Move Bill to Outlaw Traps, Poisons on Public Land

March 22, 2021 by TWN Staff
(Photo by Dan McCue)

SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act which would prohibit traps, snares and poisons on public lands.

The vote was 35-34.

The measure, Senate Bill 32, passed the New Mexico Senate by a vote of 23-16 last month, and now advances to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“We are grateful to New Mexico legislators for taking this momentous step forward to make New Mexico’s public lands safer, more humane, more ethical and more beautiful,” said Jessica Johnson, Animal Protection Voters’ chief government affairs officer.

Supporters of the legislation contend that traps, snares and poisons are indiscriminate, and able to injure or kill non-target animals unlucky enough to trigger the devices.

The bill was sponsored by state Sens. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales and Brenda McKenna, and state Reps. Chris Chandler and Matthew McQueen, all of them Democrats.

The bill was supported by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Protection Voters, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Defenders of Wildlife, the Endangered Species Coalition, New Mexico Wild Action Fund, New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association, Project Coyote, the Southwest Environmental Center, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians.

“Tonight’s final vote to ban leg-hold traps, snares and poisons on New Mexico public lands is historic. Starting April 1, 2022, we will know there will be fewer wolves, dogs, coyotes, cats, elk, fox, birds, beavers and other animals that will experience terror, pain, permanent injury and even death,” McKenna said.

“We will not read about people retelling their excruciating experiences of trying to free their four-legged family members from the devices that are designed to incapacitate while they are on a hike at any of our public federal, state or municipal lands. I thank the bill co-sponsors, wildlife scientists and dedicated advocates who helped carry the baton to the finish line,” she said.

“I am proud that we have passed Senate Bill 32 to end an archaic, cruel and unnecessary practice on public lands,” said McQueen. “I am grateful for the support of my colleagues and my co-sponsors for shepherding Senate Bill 32 through to the governor’s desk. This bill is supported by the majority of New Mexicans and will contribute to New Mexico’s bright outdoor recreation future.”

“The legislature’s thoughtful and humane vote will spare so many vulnerable animals,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity in Silver City. “Bobcats, foxes, badgers and ringtails play vital ecological roles and don’t deserve horrific deaths just so their pelts can be sold internationally.”

“New Mexico’s wildlife is held in the public trust, yet it is currently being stripped from public lands, for private profit. S.B. 32 is a commonsense solution that allows the public to hunt, fish, hike and work on publicly owned lands without the danger of steel traps, snares, and poisons,” said Greg Peters, public lands and wildlife advocate with Conservation Voters New Mexico.

“This bill allows New Mexico to modernize the state’s trapping regulations and adopt a progressive level of coexistence with wildlife, leading to a safer, more equitable approach to management of our natural resources. We are thankful for the leadership of the bill’s sponsors and for the support from House and Senate members who voted to pass this long-needed legislation,” Peters said.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the legislators who supported this legislation and recognize the importance of safe and accessible public lands and the need to respect native wildlife on those lands,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “We look forward to Governor Lujan Grisham finalizing this bill’s journey and boosting New Mexico’s reputation with better wildlife policy.”

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