New Mexico legislation would limit trapping on public lands

New legislation to limit trapping on state and federal public lands in New Mexico has been advanced by the state legislature’s House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

The Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act (HB 366) would make it illegal to use a trap, snare or poison to capture, injure or kill an animal on public land.

The prohibition would not apply in a limited number of situations. Scientific research projects, government duties related to ecosystem management, government acts to prevent or mitigate threats to human health and safety and cage traps used to capture animals damaging property, crops or livestock lawfully situated on public land would still be permitted. All other regulated trapping by the public would be prohibited on public lands.

The hearing before the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee drew a large crowd. Public comments, both for and against the bill, took nearly three hours to complete. The bill will next be considered by the state legislature’s House Judiciary Committee.

New Mexico is not the only state to grapple with issues surrounding trapping on public lands. An initiative on the ballot during Montana’s general election in 2016 would have banned trapping on public lands, but it did not pass. Other states, such as California, Colorado, Washington and Arizona have restricted or banned traps on public lands in recent years.

Efforts have been made to ban trapping on public lands on the federal level as well. During the past two sessions of Congress, the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act has been introduced, which would prohibit the use of foothold, snare and body-gripping traps on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System. That bill did not progress out of committee discussions in either session of Congress.

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

Header Image: Legislation introduced in New Mexico would limit trapping on public land. ©James Sippel