Bill to make wildlife trapping illegal draws huge crowd

Politics - Government

As lawmakers consider banning all animal trappings on public lands, the proposal drew in a huge crowd at the Roundhouse. Critics claim it’s inhumane to wildlife and that both legal and illegal traps are injuring pets, even people.

Thursday morning’s House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources committee was packed—all to hear about House Bill 366, which would make it illegal to trap, snare or poison wildlife on public lands.

“This bill is useful and humane management of wildlife and protection of pets and people from enjoying New Mexico’s public lands from unnecessary and accidental suffering, injuring and deaths,” said Rep. Christine Chandler, (D) Los Alamos.

Democratic Representatives Christine Chandler, Bobby Gonzales and the committee’s chair, Matthew McQueen, sponsored the bill. When they asked who wanted to speak, nearly every hand went up.

There was no shortage of people wanting to say their peace over this bill. It took nearly three hours to finish with public comment.

“The traps and snares are tools and they’re used to manage the state’s wildlife,” said an opponent of the bill. 

People against the bill said trappings help with wildlife overpopulation and it has a historical, cultural and economic impact for New Mexicans.

“I live, I work, I raise a beautiful family that supports my trapping heritage and my trapping beliefs,” said a man against the bill. “My father’s father’s fathers have been trapping before there was a state capitol.” 

Meanwhile, backers of the bill claim traps are not selective and can harm domestic animals and even people out on a hike.

“I support this bill because it will allay the fear of myself and others, stepping in a leghole trap,” said a woman supporting the bill. 

“When there’s traps everywhere, killing God’s creations that we value, that we cherish and are important to our ecosystem, it impacts our ability to enjoy our public lands,” said another supporter of the bill.

Public comment took so long, committee members didn’t even get a chance to talk about the bill. They’ll do that on Saturday.

If passed, the penalty for illegal trapping would be up to six months in jail and fines that start at $500 for a first offense.

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