New Mexico agency proposes trapping regulation changes

By Laura Bies

Proposed regulations would limit trapping on some public lands in New Mexico. ©Ron Reiring

Updated trapping regulations released by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish last month would require participation in trapper education programs, limit trapping within a half-mile of officially recognized hiking trailhead and other areas, and add trap specifications in public land near Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Taos.

At a meeting, the agency explained the changes proposed by the state game commission and   provided citizens an opportunity to offer feedback on the regulations. Dozens did so, many asking for more stringent regulations or an outright ban on trapping in the state.

The proposed changes would require trapper education for each trapper purchasing a furbearer license, consisting of (1) a general trapper education course, (2) training on state-specific rules and regulations and (3) a New Mexico species identification course.

The new regulations would prohibit trapping within a half-mile of trailheads, rest areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, boat launches and occupied dwellings. They will also require that traps meet certain standards to ensure safety and reduce the risk of accidents. For example, the proposal includes requirements for break-away devices for all land snares and anchoring or drag systems to prevent a trapped animal from escaping with the trap. The use of poison for taking wildlife would be prohibited.

The Wildlife Society’s standing position on traps, trapping and furbearer management supports the use of regulated trapping for sustained harvest of some furbearer species, and promotes the use of trapper education programs. The position also notes the importance of trapping in both wildlife damage management programs and wildlife research.

Legislation was introduced earlier this year in New Mexico that would have made it illegal to use a trap, snare or poison to capture, injure or kill any animal on public land. The prohibitions in the Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act (HB 366) would not have applied in certain situations, such as scientific research projects, government duties related to ecosystem management or government acts to prevent or mitigate threats to human health and safety. That bill was never brought to a vote in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The game and fish department is accepting public comments on the proposal until Sept. 22. The game commission is expected to vote on the proposed changes in January.

Read TWS’ Position Statement on Traps, Trapping, and Furbearer Management.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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