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Letters to the editor

Cougar trapping would be black eye for state

THE NEW MEXICO Game (and Fish Department) is now proposing to allow the trapping of cougars on state lands in New Mexico.

Really? Must we add yet another extremely inhumane method of exterminating animals to the long list that already gives New Mexico a black eye? Leg-hold traps are horrific devices that are indiscriminate in what they catch: foxes, dogs, bobcats and any other creature or human unlucky enough to step into its jaws. Animals chew off their legs and feet to escape.

Trappers are cowardly, lazy and have no regard for the pain and suffering they inflict. There is no sport involved in this medieval method of torturing animals to death. They leave traps close to walking trails, fail to check on them for days or weeks and could care less what they catch or how long the animal must suffer.

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A bill was introduced to ban trapping on public lands in this last legislative session, but of course, it didn’t make it through our inept Legislature. So now, of course, the (department) wants to expand trapping. Please don’t do this!

KATY WIDGER

Edgewood

Politics is at root of unpopular proposal

I AND APPROXIMATELY 47 others attended the rollout of the proposed bear and cougar rule at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Regional Office in Albuquerque on (May 5).

The cougar part of the discussion began with a recap of House Bill 586, a failed legislative effort to delist cougars as game animals. If adopted, that legislation would have made cougars non-game and would have prohibited any monitoring of cougar populations by the department. The bill died after a majority of the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee punted it forward “without recommendation.”

The biologist presenting the proposed rule stated that the department was in a “political situation” regarding the cougar. The biologist also confirmed that “political pressure” was being brought to increase the methods of take of cougars. No one from the department identified the source of the political pressure.

The biologist’s candor was refreshing, but it raised the more important question of what role is to be played by biology and data analysis. How are the conclusions and the plan being shaped by the “political situation” and “political pressure?”

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Data obtained during the meeting – a show of hands – revealed that 97.9 percent of those attending opposed the trapping or snaring of cougars as proposed by the department. The group in attendance included all stripe of political and conservation interests: hunters, houndsmen, nonhunters, Democrats, Republicans, people who support other types of trapping, people who want to ban trapping from public lands, urban, rural, etc.

On other aspects of the bear and cougar rule there were differences of opinion regarding what should or should not be done. However, the group composed of all of those diverse interests agreed – nearly unanimously – that NMDGF should not allow trapping and snaring of cougars as proposed.

Let’s hope the Game Commission is listening.

GUY DICHARRY

Los Lunas

Game Commission should be abolished

THE (NEW MEXICO) Game (and Fish Department’s) proposal to trap cougars shows that nothing has changed in the year since Scott Bidegain was forced to resign as Game Commission chairman after promoting an illegal cougar hunt.

As a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association Board of Directors, Bidegain personified the close connection between the livestock industry and the Game Commission. The commission, and the career game managers who fancy themselves “biologists,” continue to serve the interests of ranchers and trappers, while ignoring the need to protect wildlife populations.

The current drought, exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change, is likely to continue for decades, threatening wildlife habitat. All wildlife is threatened, including species not officially recognized as endangered.

It is time for the state of New Mexico to repeal outdated laws that view predators as threats to livestock. It is time to abolish the Game Commission.

MARC BEDNER

Eldorado

Game and Fish not fit for 21st century

THE NEW MEXICO Game (and Fish) Department once again proves it cannot exist in the 21st century. This department, created decades ago to promote hunting and trapping, has long-standing ties with the Western livestock industry, which is responsible for increasing environmental degradation (and) exacerbating climate change.

Ranchers graze livestock on wilderness, national forests, BLM lands, state lands and even wildlife refuges. They demand that so-called “predators” be slaughtered, and NMDGF is more than willing to help, along with federal agency animal killers – at taxpayer expense.

Bears, mountain lions and other native wild animals belong on our public lands, free from the harassment and cruelty of the NMDGF and its special-interest groups. This “good ol’ cowboy” mentality only sees wildlife as a commodity or target.

On May 31, 2014, ranchers, hunters, trappers and energy producers met in Alamogordo, to rant about “public land grabs” and predators, among other anti-environmental topics. The Game (and Fish) Department supports this mentality.

Efforts to “reform” this destructive agency have been ignored. Except perhaps for its anti-poaching division, this arrogant agency needs to be abolished, along with its evil twin – public lands ranching.

ROSEMARY LOWE

Santa Fe

NM needs department that protects wildlife

THANK YOU FOR your editorial opposing the new Game and Fish Department proposal to allow cougar trapping (“NM can’t get caught up in plan to expand cruel traps,” May 5). I agree with your arguments and you included some analysis using scientific studies.

After having a dog caught in a trap, I can support your statements that traps are indiscriminate and can lead to a slow, painful, terrified death. It is appalling that our Game and Fish Department is so unresponsive to the public and turns a deaf ear to (its) arguments and scientific studies.

To have (former Game and Fish Department Director) Jim Lane involved in any wildlife management proposals is an affront to the taxpayers of New Mexico. It is time to have a new department that supports wildlife in this state.

PEGGY NORTON

Albuquerque

Special interests push cougar trapping plan

I WAS AT the Capitol this last session every time this issue (cougar trapping) came in front of the legislators – under the guise of HB 586. The first time was in front of the Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee and – no surprise – this ag-centered committee allowed the bill to move on – but even there, barely. In the next committee – Regulatory and Public Affairs – the bill died. Not only that, this committee stated publicly that this was “the worst bill they had ever seen.”

Now, having failed in Santa Fe, leaders representing narrow agricultural interests are trying to push cougar trapping through this legislative back door.

Cougar trapping as proposed here has nothing to do with public safety or science-based wildlife management and everything to do with protecting agricultural interests at great cost to the health of our ecosystem. There are no studies showing the cougar population is currently out of control from a public safety standpoint or environmental standpoint. Modern wildlife management science agrees that the presence of apex predators like cougars is required for environmental health. Managing cougars in this way represents simply and unequivocally the whims of a small group of money-focused individuals.

MIKE LENSI

Albuquerque

Traps endanger search-and-rescue animals

I AM A NEW Mexico resident from Los Alamos and I am alarmed to read about the new cougar trapping proposal in New Mexico. I am a member for our local Search and Rescue team, and I am training my dog for SAR work.

It takes at least two years to train a dog for SAR work, and the dog needs to run free to find the subject. Time is of essence – human lives are at stake in what we do. If there is a threat – especially a man-made threat like traps in N.M. public lands – then it makes it almost impossible for me to deploy my dog in times of need. Already, New Mexico has too many traps on its public lands – one of the SAR dogs in our team got recently trapped in one. If such proposals are passed, then our job becomes almost impossible: save a human life or save our dog from getting killed/maimed in a trap. Please don’t make us make this choice!

Before settling in New Mexico, I have stayed on two different continents across the world – Asia and Europe. Nowhere else in a developed country have I seen such an inhumane and barbaric practice such as trapping. The way we treat our animals says a lot about us and our culture. Trapping is inherently cruel – it has no place in a civilized society like the United States and New Mexico in particular.

SID PATHAK

Los Alamos

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