Legislation Would Make Outdoor Recreation Safer and Enhance Tourism
Representative Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales (D-Taos) sent a big Valentine’s heart to New Mexico’s wildlife, people and companion animals when last week he introduced the New Mexico Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act, House Bill 579, which restricts the use of traps and poisons in New Mexico. If passed, the law will curb the cruelty and suffering caused by hidden but dangerous traps and poisons in New Mexico, and elevate human safety for outdoor recreationists.
“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 and for tourists and visitors,” Gonzales said. “Having anyone or their pet get crushed in a trap or killed by a poison casts a very negative light on our state.”
Most people are shocked and surprised to learn that archaic traps and dangerous poisons are still legal.
“New Mexicans want to reject cruel, 19th century devices and approaches to conflicts with wildlife," said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection Voters.
“Traps are like drift nets on the land, snagging bobcats, foxes, coyotes and also javelina, deer, raptors, squirrels, quail, roadrunners and more,” said Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair of the Rio Grand Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“Untold numbers of New Mexico’s wildlife, people and companion animals have suffered from the unimaginable cruelty from virtually unregulated and hidden traps and poisons in New Mexico,” said Wendy Keefover, carnivore protection program director for WildEarth Guardians.
“Born Free USA’s recent investigation documented the cruelty suffered by trapped wildlife including bobcats and mountain lion cubs caught in New Mexico traps,” said Monica Engebretson, senior program associate of Born Free USA. “This bill will safeguard New Mexico wildlife from such needless suffering.”
Despite a multi-year effort by citizens to persuade the New Mexico Game Commission to ban or even simply curb trapping, the commission responded by expanding trapping in areas that had been prohibited to trapping, and it even lifted the trap ban in the range of the highly endangered Mexican wolf. These decisions were in the wake of massive public support for more restrictions and/or a ban on trapping, reinforced by 12,000 e-mails, petitions and letters.
The TrapFree New Mexico coalition, which calls for banning traps in New Mexico, then held the People’s Forum in September 2011, because thousands of citizens’ voices went unheard. In April 2012, the Coalition traveled to Grants, Farmington, Española, Taos, Portales, Roswell, Silver City, and Los Lunas and presented “The Troubles with Trapping” in public forums.
Six communities (Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Mesilla, Santa Fe, Silver City and Taos), and four counties (Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Santa Fe and Taos) have passed resolutions supporting a ban on traps on public lands in New Mexico.
“Through these processes, we learned that the majority of New Mexico’s voters want traps and poisons banned from our beautiful landscapes,” Ray said.
The TrapFreeNM.org Coalition is composed of WildEarth Guardians, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Animal Protection Voters and Born Free USA.
View the bill here.
Media contact: For more information about this issue, contact Born Free USA Senior Program Associate Monica Engebretson at (916) 447-3085, ext. 210, or Monica@bornfreeusa.org.
Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.