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Legislation would Make Outdoor Recreation Safer and Enhance Tourism
Laura Bonar | Animal Protection Voters | 505.401.8936
Mary Katherine Ray | Sierra Club, Rio Grande Chapter | 575.772.5655
Monica Engebretson | Born Free USA | 916.267.7266
Santa Fe–Representative Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales (D-Taos) sent a big Valentine’s heart to New Mexico’s wildlife, people, and companion animals when last week he introduced the New Mexico Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act, House Bill 579 which restricts the use of traps and poisons in New Mexico. If passed, the law will curb the cruelty and suffering caused by hidden but dangerous traps and poisons in New Mexico, and elevate human safety for outdoor recreationists.
“While we struggle with enhancing New Mexico's economic development, it’s to our advantage to make our fabulous outdoor recreational destinations safe and enjoyable for our residents and for tourists and visitors. Having anyone or their pet get crushed in a trap or killed by a poison casts a very negative light on our state,” said Rep. Gonzales.
Most people are shocked and surprised to learn that archaic traps and dangerous poisons are still legal.
“New Mexicans want to reject cruel, 19th-Century devices and approaches to conflicts with wildlife," said Lisa Jennings, Executive Director of Animal Protection Voters.
“Traps are like drift nets on the land, snagging bobcats, foxes, coyotes and also javelina, deer, raptors, squirrels, quail, roadrunners and more,” affirmed Mary Katherine Ray, Wildlife Chair, Rio Grand Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“Untold numbers of New Mexico’s wildlife, people and companion animals have suffered from the unimaginable cruelty from virtually unregulated and hidden traps and poisons in New Mexico,” emphasized Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.
“Born Free USA's recent investigation documented the cruelty suffered by trapped wildlife including bobcats and mountain lion cubs caught in New Mexico traps,” added Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate of Born Free USA. “This bill will safeguard New Mexico wildlife from such needless suffering.”
Despite a multi-year effort by citizens to persuade the New Mexico Game Commission to ban or even simply curb trapping, the Commission responded by expanding trapping in areas that had been prohibited to trapping, and it even lifted the trap ban in the range of the highly-endangered Mexican wolf. These decisions were in the wake of massive public support for more restrictions and/or a ban on trapping, reinforced by 12,000 emails, petitions, and letters.
The TrapFree New Mexico coalition, which calls for banning traps in New Mexico, then held the People’s Forum in September 2011, because thousands of citizens’ voices went unheard. In April 2012, the Coalition traveled to Grants, Farmington, Española, Taos, Portales, Roswell, Silver City, and Los Lunas and presented, “The Troubles with Trapping” in eight public forums.
Six communities (Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Mesilla, Santa Fe, Silver City, Taos), and four counties (Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Santa Fe and Taos) have passed resolutions supporting a ban on traps on public lands in New Mexico.
“Through these processes, we learned that the majority of New Mexico’s voters want traps and poisons banned from our beautiful landscapes,” remarked Ray.
The TrapFreeNM.org Coalition is comprised of WildEarth Guardians, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Animal Protection Voters and Born Free USA.
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