NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – You can’t call it a compromise because these two groups may never see eye-to-eye. However, new rules regulating trapping in New Mexico did try to make both environmental groups and trappers happy.
“From an animal humane standpoint, they’re certainly not the best devices to be used,” said Chief Legislative Officer for Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jessica Johnson.
“One of the most important things to acknowledge about trapping is its use for helping restore and protect species with dwindling numbers,” said New Mexico Trappers Association President, Chance Thedford.
The New Mexico Game Commission recently approved more regulations to trapping in the state.
“It was not a compromise,” said Johnson.
“For years, table meetings have been facilitated by NMGF to find common ground for those opposing trapping. Unfortunately, the meetings have been fruitless with the groups making it clear the goal is to eliminate trapping completely. They have made it very clear they will not stop until regulated trapping is banned,” said Thedford.
Animal Protection of New Mexico was fighting for a total ban, focusing first on a complete ban on public lands in the state.
“A ban is what most New Mexico voters support,” said Johnson.
But what the commission implemented was stricter setback rules, requiring trappers to set traps at least half a mile from a permanent dwelling.
“The setback rules are a little excessive. A half-mile from a permanent dwelling can create problems with several farms that we trap in our state. Having to get permission from every neighbor within a half-mile in every direction and one person says no, trappers would have to tell that farmer or livestock owner they cannot be helped. This also applies to dog-proof or cage traps,” said Thedford.
“Well, certainly we think setback regulations don’t go far enough. The setback should be all of public lands,” said Johnson.
Trappers will now have to take an education course before setting traps in the field.
“At the end of the day, when we see negative trapping incidents on public lands and people are finding animals languishing in traps or their dogs get caught in traps, and as they’re trying to release their dogs from the trap they get bit by the trap, there’s nothing that an education course by trappers, there’s nothing that can do to stop that,” said Johnson.
“We were very supportive of the required class necessary to obtain a trapping license. This is a change we have been advocating for quite some time,” said Thedford.
Thedford says New Mexico is already one of the most regulated states when it comes to trapping and that further regulations will only harm people in the livestock industry and hinder their work to help reintroduce protected species.
However, Johnson argues Arizona and Colorado have more regulations than New Mexico.
“When we see our neighbors in Colorado and Arizona have banned traps and snares on public lands in Arizona and statewide in Colorado, their states are doing well, they have similar outdoor recreation economies, the tourism industry, they also have healthy agriculture industries,” said Johnson.
Johnson says Animal Protection of New Mexico plans to reintroduce “Roxy’s Law,” which would ban trapping on all public lands during the next legislative session.
KRQE News 13 did reach out to New Mexico Game and Fish for this story but did not hear back.