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In the Press: Our View: State should OK further restrictions on public trapping

Silver City Sun-News Editorial 05/22/2011 (posted 5/24/11)

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Trappers have been plying their trade in New Mexico since before the days of statehood. Now, a coalition of conservation groups is looking to end the practice on public lands.

WildEarth Guardians, Animal Protection of New Mexico and the Sierra Club sent a letter … Tuesday to the New Mexico Game Commission and the state Game and Fish Department urging that trapping be banned on public lands. …

The Game Commission has traditionally reviewed its rules every two years, but trapping rules have not been revised since 2006. It is now accepting public comments on possible revisions at nmdept.ofgameandfish@state.nm.us or by mail at New Mexico Department of Game & Fish; c/o Wildlife Management Division; 1 Wildlife Way; Santa Fe, N.M. 87507.

This is another in a long line of issues where traditional cultures and lifestyles clash with emerging, modern-day sensitivities. While there is some sympathy here for an outright ban, we believe further restrictions would be the right move at this time. And we don't support removing the temporary ban in the Gila.

We are especially concerned about trapping in and around hiking and camping areas, where pet dogs would be more likely to be ensnared. Existing laws allow for traps to be set 25 yards from public trails or roadways, and don't require any kind of warning signs to alert those in the area with pets. The regulations should do a better job of keeping trappers away from hikers and campers, and warn people to keep their pets away from the traps.

Current rules require traps to be checked every 24 hours. We encourage vigilant enforcement of this rule to ensure animals aren't left in traps for several days. We would also like to see limits on the number of traps that can be set and animals killed. And, trapping rules must apply to coyotes as well as other animals.

Arizona and Colorado are among the neighboring states that have banned trapping on public lands. New Mexico regulators may not be ready to take that leap yet, but should move to ensure trappers are kept separate from hikers and their pets, and that the rules are enforced.

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Please send your comments in favor of the trapping ban on public lands to nmdept.ofgameandfish@state.nm.us. These traps pose a danger to people, pets, and wildlife, including highly endangered Mexican gray wolves.

You can read the full editorial, published in the Silver City Sun-News, here.  This was also published in the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Letters to the editor supporting the trap ban can be submitted to the Silver City Sun-News here and to the Las Cruces Sun-News here.

Photo credit: Three-legged Mexican wolf photo courtesy of the Mexican gray wolf Interagency Field Team