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New Mexico Legislature approves trapping ban on public land

Las Cruces Sun-News logo Las Cruces Sun-News 3/19/2021 Morgan Lee
a pile of hay: This Feb. 20, 2019, file photo, shows a foothold trap intended for bobcats, set by licensed trapper Tom Fisher, on the outskirts of Tierra Amarilla, N.M. In North Carolina, trappers after game like raccoons or coyotes may legally use foothold traps as long as they meet certain requirements. The traps can't have a spread larger than 7.5 inches, and the jaws must be smooth-edged and without teeth or spikes, according to the Wildlife Resource Commission's guide to legal trap types in North Carolina. © Morgan Lee/AP This Feb. 20, 2019, file photo, shows a foothold trap intended for bobcats, set by licensed trapper Tom Fisher, on the outskirts of Tierra Amarilla, N.M. In North Carolina, trappers after game like raccoons or coyotes may legally use foothold traps as long as they meet certain requirements. The traps can't have a spread larger than 7.5 inches, and the jaws must be smooth-edged and without teeth or spikes, according to the Wildlife Resource Commission's guide to legal trap types in North Carolina.

SANTA FE — A bill that prohibits the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across New Mexico with limited exceptions won approval by the Legislature on Thursday, with a 35-34 vote of the state House.

The vote reflects a shift in attitudes toward animal suffering and new unease with use of steel foot traps and wire snares that many ranchers still swear by.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for consideration.

Bill co-sponsor Matthew McQueen of Galisteo says household pets are walking into traps increasingly amid efforts to promote outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands.

“There are very few limitations on where a trapper can set a trap,” McQueen said. “There are very few consequences for violating the few limitations.”

More: Legislative Notebook: House Dems propose compromise on loan bill

Rural residents and wildlife conservation officers say trapping remains an important tool for managing wildlife and protecting livestock. They unsuccessfully urged lawmakers to allow more time for new trapping rules, adopted in 2020, to work before imposing a sweeping ban.

The new bill allows continued use of traps on public lands for purposes of scientific research, ecosystem management and rodent control. It also exempts Native American religious observances that may involve harvesting wildlife.

The bill does not affect activity on private property or apply to Native American lands.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico Legislature approves trapping ban on public land

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