Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
A New Mexico woman and wildlife advocate who works to ban trapping recently encountered a steel foothold trap up close and personal while walking in the Cibola National Forest.
Mary Katherine Ray of Winston said she was walking her two leashed dogs on Tuesday, along a game trail they frequently use in the San Mateo Mountains, when her shepherd mix, Greta, began to scream in pain.
“Until you’ve heard it, it is unimaginable,” said Ray, who works with the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club.
She quickly realized Greta’s left front paw was caught in a trap.
Ray is the wildlife chairwoman for the club and routinely teaches people how to release traps should their pets be caught, so she knew what to do.
She threw her jacket over Greta to protect herself but still received a few bites from the panicked dog.
After pushing down – hard – on the release levers on both sides of the trap, Greta was free.
Ray said Greta limped for a few hours and has since recovered, but the incident has left her shaken.
“I can’t imagine people who are just out hiking, not knowing what I do about traps,” she said.
She said a game warden she informed about the incident inspected the trap and told her there was nothing illegal about it.
Trapping of foxes, badgers, weasels, ringtails and bobcats is legal on public lands from Nov. 1 to March 15.
The trap was placed in the middle of the game trail, but that’s legal, because it’s not an official walking trail on any map.
It was also farther than the required 25 yards from any public road.
“Until March 15, I’m going to be staying inside,” Ray said.
Ray said she also carries a pair of cable cutters in case one of her dogs is caught in a snare, another legal means of catching fur-bearers.
Last month, a man found himself in hot water after releasing a trapped fox near Placitas and nursing it back to health.
A bill to make trapping and poisoning animals on public lands illegal was introduced in the state’s 2017 legislative session, but it died in committee.
According to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, nearly 5,000 protected fur-bearers, including beavers, foxes, badgers and raccoons, were harvested during the 2016-2017 season.
Trappers are permitted through Game and Fish, which did not respond to requests for comment.