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Student Hiker Bitten while Releasing Pet from Leg-Hold Trap
San Cristobal, NM - On February 26, Nina Anthony and her daughter Maya, a high school student, hiked in Garrapata Canyon near their home in San Cristobal, New Mexico, when one of their three dogs, Joker, became ensnared in a leg-hold trap.
People set traps on public and private lands in New Mexico with the intent to capture animals and then kill them for their furs, which are then sold on global markets. Bobcat pelts, especially highly prized, can fetch several hundred dollars apiece, which has spurred a gold rush on New Mexico’s bobcats and other native wildlife.
“In New Mexico, trapping is a highly unregulated activity that harms wildlife populations and has many unintended victims, including people and their pets,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “This is the second animal companion incident in just 14 months in the San Cristobal area of which we are aware.”
The Anthonys were on the return trip of their hike when Joker was trapped. “I heard Joker scream and it was a noise that I shall never forget,” recalled Maya Anthony.
Standing on top of a ridge, Maya and looked down and saw Joker struggling in a leg-hold trap. Maya dropped her water bottle and rushed to Joker’s rescue. His leg and mouth were bloodied, as was a large cotton ball, which had been impregnated with a smelly bait to in lure an animal. In his frenzied panic, Joker had bitten his own leg and the trap.
Just as Maya reached Joker, he clamped onto her arm. Maya recollected, “I still get flashbacks when I look at my arm because it was so unreal. I had to smack his nose to get him to release me.”
Maya tried to remember how to remove the trap from her dog’s paw from watching a video and reading a brochure, but Joker just kept thrashing and pulling. Then Nina reached them, and the frightened dog latched onto her leg. Maya recalls, “When Mom got down, Joker grabbed at her leg and ripped through her jeans and sock. I had to smack him again to get him off of her. Touching the trap even the slightest bit hurt him and he just lashed out at us because he was scared and in horrible pain.”
Maya rushed home and returned with her father, John Anthony, and with towels. Maya and Nina placed the towels over Joker’s head and held him down while John struggled to release the dog from the trap, which was made more difficult because the soil was soft and loamy.
Joker’s foot was tender for a day or two but he is now walking again. “He was lucky the trap caught him in between his paw pads. If the trap snapped shut higher on his leg, he could have suffered broken bones,” said Nina. Maya immediately sought emergency medical attention for herself, including a tetanus shot and the administration of antibiotics. While her arm is healing, she still requires bandages. Nina received a minor abrasion and is recovered.
The TrapFreeNM Coalition comprised of conservation and animal welfare organizations requested a ban on trapping in New Mexico last year. As part of that effort, citizen activists, including Maya Anthony gathered over 12,000 signatures in support of a trapping ban and delivered them to the Game Commission. The Commissioners ignored the petition at a hearing in Clayton last July, and instead expanded trapping in the state.
“Traps are indiscriminate, dangerous, and set everywhere on New Mexico’s public lands, which can endanger hikers, campers, hunters, and their companion animals,” added Keefover. “Maya and Nina’s incident is a terrible reminder of how our public lands have become unsafe to explore because of widespread trapping.”
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