The governor of Montana recently made news by sadistically – and illegally – trapping and killing a wolf as that state gears up to slaughter more of its native wildlife.
Despite protests from numerous professional wildlife managers, the Montana legislature recently passed several bills that will allow gruesome, unethical and unsustainable wildlife baiting and killing methods that were outlawed a century ago.
Fortunately, the New Mexico Legislature has chosen a more sensible and humane path in regard to wildlife and public lands by passing Senate Bill 32, “Roxy’s Law,” that would restrict traps, snares and explosive poison devices on our public lands. If enacted, this law will protect people, pets and wildlife from these cruel, indiscriminate devices on public lands. SB 32 is widely supported in both rural and urban areas across the state, and would offer numerous benefits to residents, visitors and the state’s economy.
But be warned: SB 32 will not become law unless Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs it. She has until April 9 to do so.
Trapping on public lands continues to be a source of intense conflict. Limb-crushing steel jaw traps, steel cable strangulation snares and M-44 explosive cyanide devices are present unmarked on our public lands, and all are notoriously indiscriminate killers. Current regulations on these devices are almost nonexistent; trappers can set as many traps and kill as many animals as they want for a mere $20 trapping license, and sell the body parts for personal profit without even paying gross receipts tax. This lax approach by state wildlife managers has led to widespread illegal trapping and snaring, and is a clear and present danger to all public lands users.
The presence of traps on public lands is not compatible with other uses of public lands or with the demands of basic decency in contemporary society. Animals caught in traps often suffer for days before they are killed and are subject to extreme and agonizing body mutilations. Trapping and snaring inflict some of the most extreme animal cruelty that still persists in our society. Traps, snares and poisons have destroyed many lives, and they will continue to do so unless they are restricted from public lands.
As a member of the TrapFree New Mexico coalition, I have seen too much destruction to ignore or trivialize this issue. Roxy’s Law is named after a snare victim, a dog, who died struggling in her owner’s arms on New Mexico public lands in 2018.
New Mexico wildlife managers have done an abysmal job of protecting people and wildlife from the cruelty and unlimited exploitation of trapping. SB 32 is a rare opportunity to make significant improvements to public safety, wildlife protection and public lands management. Banning traps on public lands would open up the potential for a robust outdoor recreation industry, diversify the state’s economy and drive employment in a truly sustainable way.
Should it become state law, SB 32 has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of wild lives and improve many others, both human and nonhuman. But this legislation will not go into effect unless the governor signs it.
Please take a minute or two and be heard! Call the office of Gov. Lujan Grisham at (505) 476-2200 or submit written comments at https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/.
Urge her to sign SB 32 into law.
Charles Fox of Santa Fe is an avid public lands user and member of the TrapFree New Mexico Coalition.