MILAN, N.M. – Milan man Zacharia Copeland, 22, has been charged with Trapping Without a License. The charge came after Copeland posted a Facebook photo of a badger he had shot. Investigators found the photo, and on October 19 they filed a criminal complaint against Copeland. An arraignment has been scheduled in the Cibola County Magistrate Court for November 21 at 9 a.m. According to the criminal complaint, badgers are protected animals in the State of New Mexico and can only be trapped or hunted with a permit. The complaint alleges that Copeland did not have a permit to hunt or trap the badger. The complaint alleges that Copeland informed the New Mexico Game and Fish that he shot the animal because he saw it leave a hole and heard that they attack other types of animals. New Mexico State law, specifically NMSA 1978 Section 17-5-2 focuses on the protection of “Fur-Bearing and Nongame Animals” that roam on four legs, also known as quadrupeds. These fur-bearing animals include muskrat, mink, weasel, beaver, otter, nutria, masked or blackfooted ferret, ringtail cat, raccoon, pine marten, coatimundi, bobcat, all species of foxes, and the badger. These animals, and their pelts, are considered to be property of the state until the proper paperwork has been filed with the state and a permit has been acquired.
These animals are protected because they are often over-hunted for their pelts. All of the protected animals in this law are there specifically because they are hunted for their pelts, hence the name “furbearing”.
According to the New Mexico Game and Fish, badgers are short-legged, stout animals that have sharp claws. These animals are members of the weasel family and typically have an elongated head with small ears and a stripe from their nose to their tail. Badgers have special jaws that allow them to latch onto their prey. These animals usually burrow in in the ground, their burrows are easily identified due to their “elliptical shaped entrances”. They can produce a foul, musky smelling odor from their anal glands to keep predators away, but if that does not work, their sharp claws allow them to burrow into the ground with “remarkable speed”.
Badgers are normally solitary creatures and are usually active during the daytime, but can become nocturnal if human activity is continually present. Badger activity in Cibola County during Autumn can be attributed to the animals search for a mate, according to NM Game and Fish.