SANTA FE – Rep. Bobby Gonzales (D-Taos-42) has introduced House Bill 579, the “New Mexico Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act,” which would restrict the use of traps and poisons across New Mexico.
Gonzales said he believes reform of New Mexico’s wildlife management policies is key to making New Mexico competitive for tourist dollars.
“While we struggle with enhancing New Mexico’s economic development, it’s to our advantage to make our fabulous outdoor recreational destinations safe and enjoyable for our residents, for tourists and visitors. Having anyone or their pet get crushed in a trap or killed by a poison casts a very negative light on our state,” Gonzales said.
Colorado has banned traps, snares and poisons statewide, and Arizona has banned traps on all public lands, comprising the vast majority of the state.
“If New Mexico wants to attract tourists, we must be on a level playing field with our neighboring states,” he said.
HB 579 prohibits the following:
- Setting body gripping traps for wildlife, feral or domestic animals (including leg-hold traps and snares)
- Putting out poison for wildlife or feral animals
- Selling raw fur from animals that were trapped
- When human health and safety is at issue
- When public waterways, levees and dams are being damaged by beavers- in which case conibear traps can be used
- Whenlegitimate scientific research requires the use of traps
- When threatened and endangered species protection requires the use of traps
- Rodent pest and bird control
- Landowners protecting property, livestock or crops on private land only, with a permit
- Cage traps in conjunction with humane/field euthanasia or permitted release of wildlife can still be used statewide.
Penalties include a misdemeanor for the first offense, a fourth-degree felony for the second offense and beyond.
Gonzales was prompted to introduce the legislation after two of his constituents and their pets were injured by leg hold traps.
In December 2010, Arifa Goodman of San Cristobal was hiking with her dogs in the national forest near the village. During her walk, two of the dogs were caught in hidden traps, both staked into the frozen ground and chained to a tree.
In attempting to free the terrified dogs, Goodman injured her hand in the devices’ strong clamps. In February 2012, a Taos High School senior named Maya Anthony was hiking with her mother and pit bull mix.
The dog stepped into a hidden coyote trap and panicked, screaming, biting and deeply puncturing Maya’s arm. In both incidents, the victims incurred significant veterinary and medical bills.
HB 579 has the support of the “Trap Free New Mexico” coalition, which includes the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wild Earth Guardians, Born Free USA and Animal Protection of New Mexico.
“New Mexicans want to reject cruel, 17th century devices and approaches to conflicts with wildlife,” said Executive Director Lisa Jennings of Animal Protection Voters.
HB 579 is referred to the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.