Game Agency Defies Governor, Game Commission
Agency Unilaterally Determines Coyote Trapping Legal on the Gila
Santa Fe— Nov. 9. In defiance of the both Governor Bill Richardson and the New Mexico Game Commission, the Department of Game and Fish unilaterally declared that coyote trapping in the Mexican wolf recovery area would continue.
• On July 28, Governor Bill Richardson issued an executive order that prohibits leghold and body-crushing traps within the Mexican wolf recovery area in New Mexico to protect imperiled wolves. The order bans commercial and recreational trapping in this area by private persons for a six-month period beginning on November 1, 2010; requires the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to undertake a study to see if traps harm wolves; and directs the Department of Tourism to undertake a study on potential economic benefits of lobo-related ecotourism.
• On October 28, the Game Commission unanimously adopted the Governor’s Executive Order as part of its regulations. But at that hearing, Jim Lane, Wildlife Chief for Game and Fish declared that coyote trapping would be legal because the agency had “no authority” to regulate coyotes.
• Yesterday, Game and Fish put out a press release that stated: “The trapping ban was in effect November 1, and applies to steel traps, foothold traps, snares and conibear body-gripping traps. Trapping for coyotes is allowed. Trapping for regulated furbearer is allowed when necessary to protect public safety and private property.”
Coyotes are not defined as unregulated furbearers but as unprotected furbearers under the state’s administrative code. Furbearers are animals trapped for their pelts and includes bobcats, foxes, and skunks.
While the NMDGF and the Commission have chosen not to set bag limits or seasons on coyotes it does not follow that the state lacks “authority” to do so—in fact, state law give the agency and commission broad discretion over wildlife management. Neither body has chosen to set bag limits or seasons on coyotes, however.
Also under state regulations, coyotes can be killed in unlimited numbers all year long, unlike bobcats and foxes. The methods of kill by which any furbearer, protected or not, can be killed, are clearly spelled out in the administrative code.
Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club stated, “In New Mexico, traps are highly regulated. The Agency, for example, restricts their placement, size, and types of baits. By claiming that coyote trapping is legal in the Gila, the agency is willfully disregarding its own rules.”
“The Game and Fish crew are running totally amok. The state’s laws clearly give Game and Fish regulatory authority of coyotes and over trapping regulations. Their actions are defiant and subordinate the Governor, the Game Commission and the people,” stated Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians.