Get out your bone-crushing traps, because the state Department of Game and Fish wants to expand opportunities to use them to kill New Mexico wildlife.
The department is proposing to make trapping cougars easier on private land and to expand the practice to about 9 million acres of state trust land – which, along with the wildlife, belongs to all New Mexicans.
One wouldn’t necessarily know that from the actions of state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who requested trapping be allowed on state land; or the New Mexico Game Commission, which is entrusted with managing state lands and wildlife; or some people who lease parcels of state land.
The proposal, which would allow landowners to trap or snare cougars without a permit for five months of the year, also would increase the number of black bears that can be taken by hunters in the Sandia Mountains from five to 11.
At least there is science behind that proposal.
That bear limit is based on new bear population estimates derived from a new study that used genetic testing of bear hairs snagged on barbed wire. The study estimates 132 bears live in the Sandias, almost double the previous estimate of 46 to 72 bears. Bear advocates dispute the new figure.
One may be able to offer reasonable grounds for hunting, but the cruelty inherent in trapping is no longer justifiable on any grounds. Once caught in a leghold trap, the animal, be it a big powerful cat or someone’s pet, suffers incredible pain and in panic may chew off its own limb in its struggle to escape.
Trapping has been banned in more than 80 countries and it should be outlawed in New Mexico.
Commissioners are set to vote on the new Bear and Cougar Rule and want to hear from the public. The message should be: End trapping in New Mexico for good.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.