Editorial: Another 4-legged reason NM should ban traps - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Another 4-legged reason NM should ban traps

Just 80 feet from the road to Sandia Crest.

In view of a picnic table and a popular hiking trail.

And in the path of a family pet named Cub.

This past weekend, Cub stepped into a metal leg-hold trap.

Luckily, Cub’s owner and a friend were hiking with the dog and were able to pry open the jaws of the trap before they caused any serious damage to the animal’s leg.

Critics are already blaming Cub’s owner, saying John Ussery should have followed the law and had his dog on a leash. Absolutely. But that misses the point that Ussery could just as easily walked with a leashed dog over the buried trap, which the state Game and Fish Department said Tuesday was placed in a legal position, but did not have the required tag/etched owner ID.

The trap is the type usually set for bobcat or fox. New Mexico allows trapping as long as the devices are more than 75 feet from any public road or trail; more than one-quarter mile from a picnic area, roadside rest area or occupied dwelling; and more than one-half mile from an established and maintained campground or boat launching area.

So, if the trap was indeed 80 feet from the road to Sandia Peak, arming its steel jaws and leaving it under a layer of dirt and leaves is OK – as long as the trap has its owner’s ID?

That legalistic parsing misses the point that New Mexico is woefully out of step with the rest of the world by not only allowing, but also expanding the use of vicious 1800s-era technology that virtually guarantees injury and, in some cases, a slow, painful, terrified death for anything that comes in contact with it.

Trapping has been banned in more than 80 countries, and eight states – including Arizona and Colorado – have banned or placed severe restrictions on leg-hold and instant-kill traps. No other state except Texas allows cougar trapping.

Yet, last year, Game and Fish ignored its $1 million study that showed there was no livestock predation by cougars and instead told the state Game Commission to allow recreational trapping and snaring of cougars on private land and, at the request of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, on 9 million acres of state trust land. Animal Protection of New Mexico and the Humane Society of the United States are suing the commission and the department in state and federal courts over the expansion, emphasizing “littering New Mexico with leg-hold traps and snares will expose endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars to cruel and unnecessary suffering and death.”

The traps also pose a threat to any unsuspecting living thing they come in contact with – they are indiscriminate in what they catch and Ussery points out that Cub could just have easily been a child.

The idea that a barbaric steel-jawed trap can legally be set and left within sight of a picnic table off a popular hiking trail defies logic in 2016.

Ussery and Cub just handed the state a four-legged reason to rethink their ruling.

They should not wait for a two-legged one.

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.

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