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In the Press: Animal trapping: Politics, practicality — and cruelty

Las Cruces Sun-News Editorial 08/03/2011 (posted 8/7/11)

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Deep in the silence of a New Mexico forest, a bushy tailed red fox rustles leaves as he makes his way through the trees. Suddenly there's a loud, metallic snap and simultaneous cries of agony from the fox. He has stepped in a cunningly hidden trap.

The fox's life has suddenly been narrowed to two options — a painful, lingering death in the trap, or a violent death at the hands of a trapper — and he controls neither.

And the fox's only crime? Having a lush, beautiful fur coat.

On July 22, the New Mexico Game Commission rubber-stamped the state Department of Game and Fish recommendation to expand trapping opportunities in the state. By doing so the state is endorsing a cruel and inhumane way of harvesting wild animals.

A good part of this action appears politically motivated, which is unfortunate, especially when dealing with the life and death of wild animals.

The political history: About a year ago, then-Gov. Bill Richardson — a Democrat — extended a ban on regulated furbearer trapping in the Gila and Apache national forests.

The ban was intended to give researchers more time to study the effects of trapping on the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf.

But advocates of the ban have noted that new Gov. Susana Martinez — a Republican — appointed most of the members of the commission. And it's telling that a small-business task force — appointed by Martinez — recommended a reconsideration of the ban.

The panel suggested that it might be helpful to local economies to remove the ban.
Well, when it comes to the politics of this issue, it's easy to become entangled in the weeds. There's a lot going on here, but we think it's reprehensible to support political and business gain by allowing and encouraging cruelty to animals.

The one ane argument that won't go away is the inhumane nature and cruelty of traps. But what about the practical implications?

Body-gripping traps do not discriminate between their intended victims and other animals — perhaps your pet — that might have the misfortune of setting off a trap. And they will snap closed on people as well as animals.

The Mexican gray wolf is the center — or should be — of the New Mexico discourse. Federal officials have been working to reintroduce the wolf in certain areas.

Consider the following:

According to Animal Protection of New Mexico, at least 14 Mexican gray wolves have been injured in traps since 2002. At least two have lost legs.

Results of a recent state/federal study on wolves and trapping practices haven't been released? Why?

There were more than 7,000 public comments calling for a ban on trapping on public wild lands. About 340 pro-trapping letters were received prior to the Game Commission vote.

Even with all the permutations and combinations, this all boils down to one thing - humane treatment of animals. And trapping is not humane.
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This editorial was originally posted by the Las Cruces Sun-News – you can read it on their website here.

Letters to the editor supporting the greatest possible protections for Mexican wolves can be submitted here.

Photo credit: Mexican gray wolf  in the wild, courtesy of Jean Ossorio