Traps Ensnare Hiker and Dogs
Three Recent Incidents Plague New Mexicans
Santa Fe, NM. Since mid-December, at least three New Mexico residents
and/or their dogs have been caught in leg-hold traps set out by fur
trappers. In one instance, the
traps were illegally set but snows have hampered investigation by the New
Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
December 12, while hiking on the Dome Road of the Santa Fe National Forest,
Maggie Craw, a Peña Blanca resident and her friend, found themselves
frantically rescuing Craw’s Labrador retriever, Lulu. It took both adults to accomplish the task after a
steel-jawed, leg-hold trap slammed shut and concussed Lulu’s paw.
were absolutely frightened!” exclaimed Craw, “Lulu grew increasingly agitated
while we scrambled to hold her down and release the trap.” She affirmed that, “Lulu’s screams were
horrific—sounds that I didn’t know a dog could make—horrible haunting sounds that
I never want to hear again,” Craw added.
trap, placed near the roadway, was illegal because it both failed to identify
the trapper and was baited with fresh meat. It is legal, however, to hide traps within as little as 75
feet from a road or trail. Game Warden Desi Ortiz and Craw attempted to visit
the site on December 17, but deep snow prevented them and a second visit on
December 27 was unfruitful because of snow cover over the traps.
shocked to learn that traps can be set so close to a public road,” Craw
December 20th, hiker Arifa Goodman and her two dogs got caught in traps near
the Village of San Cristobal located in Taos County. Goodman was walking on the Carson National Forest where she
walks daily with her canine companions, Wally, a Belgian Malinios, and Jasper,
a German Shepherd.
Wally’s front paw was captured by a coyote trap, he howled. Goodman, “operating on adrenaline,”
forced open the trap but could not sustain the strength to hold the apparatus
open. Her own fingers became
ensnared and were crushed. She
tried desperately for about ten minutes to open the trap and when that effort
failed, she untied the stake from around a tree and spent the next 20 minutes
“running down the hill.” Goodman
knocked on several doors before someone was able to help her.
said, “I think I spent 30 minutes with three fingers caught in the trap. My fingers were numb and I felt at one
point I might lose one of them.”
during her ordeal, Goodman realized Jasper was missing and feared she too was
also caught in a trap. As soon as
she was free, Goodman raced her car back up the hill to find Jasper, who was in
a desperate state. Jasper had one
toe caught in a trap, was lying on the ground, but her rear left leg was
suspended in the air with the trap hanging over a bent tree. The only way to open the trap Goodman
realized was to get it onto the ground and stand with all her weight on either
side to release the mechanism. But
because of its position the only thing she could do was unbury the stake.
the ground was not frozen,” said Goodman, “otherwise I would not have been able
to get it out.” She used the iron
from her car jack to dig up the stake.
recalled, “It took me an hour to free Jasper. She was bleeding profusely. I took her on an emergency vet run twelve miles into Taos,
where my vet met us after hours.
Jasper received approximately 10 stitches, bandages, and
antibiotics. Her cut was very
next day, my own hand was still numb,” added Goodman. “I went to urgent care myself, after driving myself to Taos
where I was X-rayed, given a tetanus shot and antibiotics. Two and one-half weeks after this
incident, I still have no sensation in one finger.”
caught in a trap can happen to anyone.
It’s a danger to anyone who uses the forest, and traps should not be
allowed so close to communities.
When one’s dog is caught in a trap howling in pain, the only thing one
can think about is getting the dog free.
A person could die if caught in a trap and it’s frozen to the ground and
they cannot get out. It could
happen to anyone—it almost happened to me.”
Goodman’s case, the traps were legally placed. The trapper was notified of the
incident because the traps were set near popular hiking trails. Goodman’s
experience of freeing her two dogs and herself took approximately 2 hours, she
third incident occurred 30 miles west of Taos on public lands. Attempts to contact the woman have not
yet been successful.
seek to ensnare wildlife like bobcats, foxes and coyotes in order to make money
from selling their pelts.
people mistakenly believe trapping is illegal. In fact, trapping activities
have spiked in recent years because of overseas demands. Fur pelts brings more
money than ever,” noted Mary Katherine Ray, Wildlife chair for the Rio Grande
Chapter of the Sierra Club.
had her own run-in with a trap in 2004. She was hiking in a remote area with
her two dogs when, because they were on leashes, all three were lured to the
trap location by the scent bait the trapper had applied. “Luckily, the way I
placed my foot inadvertently kicked the trap and it slammed shut harmlessly.
But I discovered that I was not strong enough or big enough to have opened it
and with the ground frozen and me a 90 minute walk from my vehicle, I don’t
know what I would have done. Even though none of us were hurt, knowing traps
can be lurking out there has taken away some of the peace I once enjoyed while
hiking alone on public lands.
Because of trap danger, I feel like I can’t hike in some places now.”
Arizona (1994) and Colorado (1996) banned public lands trapping through citizen
initiatives. New Mexico has no
citizen-ballot initiative process.
Mexicans, unlike Coloradoans or Arizonans, must remain vigilant for hidden
traps on public lands while recreating. Traps do not discriminate between their
victims, but they are cruel torture for any animal or person caught in them,”
stated Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians. “The trap-check time in New Mexico is once daily, except for
coyote traps which have no time requirements,” she added.
NM Trapping Background
Rio Grand Chapter of the Sierra Club has been collecting stories from trap
victims since 2005.
Furbearer Regulations – Process Under Review
December 2010, the New Mexico Game Commission voted to review the furbearer
trapping rules but did not set the date for the new review. Hearings before for the Game Commission
have not yet been scheduled.
petition requesting that the trapping regulations be opened was submitted by
WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club – Rio Grande Chapter, and Animal Protection of
New Mexico in 2009 after record numbers of bobcats and foxes were killed by
furtrappers and because the Game Commission had not visited the issue for four
years despite the high, unsustainable rates of trapping.
Wolves and Trapping
July 28, 2010, Governor Bill Richardson issued an executive order that
prohibited leghold and body-crushing traps within the Mexican wolf recovery
area in New Mexico to protect lobos. The trap ban, intended to protect highly
endangered Mexican wolves, occurred after fourteen wolves had been caught in
furtrappers’ traps since 2002. Two
wolves sustained leg amputations stemming from trap injuries.
order banned commercial and recreational trapping in this area by private
persons for a six-month period beginning on November 1, 2010; required NMDGF to
undertake a study to see if traps harm wolves; and directed the Department of
Tourism to undertake a study on potential economic benefits of lobo-related
October 28, 2010, 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.
November 8, 2010 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.”
and Fish’s position is contrary to New Mexico’s laws for protecting endangered
species and ignores their own regulations.
NM Governmental Bodies Adopted Anti-Trapping Resolutions in 2010
Town of Silver City — the county
seat of Grant County, New Mexico, the county which historically has lead the
state in the highest number of animals trapped. Resolution unanimously adopted
on February 23, 2010.
Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley — a
public entity operated under a joint powers agreement by the City of Las Cruces
(New Mexico’s second-most populous city) and Doña Ana County. The ASCMV Board
of Directors, who unanimously approved this resolution on June 3, 2010, is
composed of elected Doña Ana County commissioners and elected City of Las
Doña Ana County — New Mexico’s
second-most populous county. Resolution unanimously adopted on July 13, 2010.
The Town Of Mesilla, unanimously passed a resolution on December 13, 2010.