SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – A New Mexico measure that would prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public lands across cleared the Democratic-led Senate late Tuesday. The legislation passed despite four Democrats from rural areas breaking with their party and voting in opposition. Two Republicans from the Albuquerque area voted in favor.
The measure stills need House approval and lawmakers have less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session. Environmentalists and animal advocacy groups have said New Mexico needs to join neighboring states and ban what they described as a cruel and outdated practice.
But rural residents and wildlife conservation officers have said that trapping remains an important tool for managing wildlife and protecting livestock. New Mexico already has taken some steps to rein in the practice. The state Game Commission last year adopted changes that call for trappers to complete an education course and imposed restrictions on setting traps and snares around designated trailheads and on select tracts of public lands to reduce the trap hazards to hikers and pets.
But supporters of the legislation have said several dogs have been injured despite the new rules and that more should be done to ensure public safety, especially because New Mexico is pushing to promote outdoor recreation.
Under the legislation, violations of the proposed trapping ban would be misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of less than one year. Each individual trap, snare or application of poison would constitute a single violation, and a court could require restitution to be paid to the state’s wildlife management agency.