New Mexico Trapping Ban Signed into Law
Posted on April 8, 2021 Share this post:
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham quietly signed New Mexico Senate Bill 32 into law this week after a political process that lacked transparency and basic democratic principles. The bill deals a major blow to trappers and North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Senate Bill 32 prohibits trapping on all public land in the state with few exceptions. Government agents working to resolve public safety issues, scientists conducting research and Native Americans can all still trap on public land.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance opposed Senate Bill 32 at every step of the legislative process and worked with a coalition of more than 20 organizations. Unfortunately, New Mexico’s legislature did not allow any in person meetings or provide opportunities for equitable input from opponents of SB 32. Effectively, the legislature passed a bill without any legitimate input from trappers, conservation officers or the New Mexico Fish and Game department.
The legislation was touted as a public safety bill to protect domestic dogs and, as a result, the bill passed at the expense of wildlife, the sportsmen’s community and the livelihoods of New Mexico’s ranching community. Even as these concerns were repeatedly raised by our coalition, not a single legitimate effort was made by either the house or the senate to amend the bill to limit the impacts on the above-mentioned groups. Multiple amendments were proposed, and all were turned down without any consideration. The process was stacked against our coalition from the start and activist legislators chose to protect the interest of animal-rights groups over the interests of the thousands of sportsmen and farmers, as well as the safety of New Mexico citizens.
“This process, conducted completely online, behind closed doors and in concert with animal-rights activists and organizations, made a mockery of the democratic process and raises grave concerns about the future of good-faith lawmaking efforts in New Mexico,” said Jacob Hupp, associate director of state services at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “The future of science-based wildlife conservation in New Mexico is all but over if this has become their new legislative standard.”
The facts, as nearly as I was able to distill them:
1. Trapping is not yet banned. But a law passed that WOULD ban it next year. It still has to be signed/vetoed by the governor (but my money is on it going through)
2. Uproar came from a dog that died in an illegally set snare trap near Santa Fe. This wasn't a bunch of hand-wringers worried about "muskrat wellness." More of a lock-the-barn-door-after kind of thing.
3. Law does NOT affect private property or Native American lands. For what it's worth.
4. It was hotly contested and passed by only 1 vote.
5. The law specifically prohibits "leghold, body-gripping and cage traps" as well as "snares" and poison. Some of that's already illegal in most other places (poison). What seems unique to me is forbidding cage traps. I'm not a lawyer but the way I read the law it basically outlaws everything. I mean a deadfall or even a pit trap could be body-gripping depending on how you look at it.
To me that's the main thing that makes it different from other states like Colorado which are more focused on trying to find some balancing act between hunter goals (general fur-bearer trapping) and species preservation (Lynx). In CO you can do cage traps but have to check them daily. The idea being if you trap a lynx, it lives, and you release it. Other states like AL or WI don't have this problem - they aren't trying to reintroduce/encourage population growth in something rare like the Lynx. So I can see the logic in CO's rules from that perspective.
Overall, it's not clear to me that there are many folks actively trapping in NM, it's a really arid state and the bulk of what's trappable must be rodents. I can't imagine there's a big group of muskrat or mink trappers there. But if there are.... not a good day for that group, sorry.
Very curious to know if anybody here actively traps in NM today, and what they target.