SANTA FE, N.M. – Supporters and opponents of HB 366, the Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act, packed into the House committee room at the Roundhouse. The bill would ban trapping wildlife on public land.

HB 366 was heard in its first House committee on Thursday morning. The committee made some technical amendments to the bill but didn’t have time to vote on it.

Supporters say the wildlife trapping ban on public land would protect wildlife.

“Since 2013, nearly 30,000 fur-bearing species have been killed by trappers,” said Christopher Smith, with conservation group Wildearth Guardians. “Our native ecosystems are already pushed to the brink by climate change, by human expansion, by drought, and trapping just another toll being taken on those species.”

Smith says ending trapping on public lands would also protect people and pets.

“Every year we have nearly a dozen dogs who are caught in traps, domestic dogs, who are caught on public land while their owners are recreating with them. We’ve had people who have stepped in traps,” Smith said.

Opponents to the bill – like the New Mexico Cattlegrowers’ Association, say the trapping ban would hurt ranchers financially.

“It’s predator control, very important to our industry out there, to be able to manage the number of predators who will kill our livestock,” said Randell Major, president-elect of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers’ Association.

Other opponents say the ban would result in a population boom of predatory wild animals like coyotes.

“It’s going to hurt the ecosystem here in New Mexico as it’s already done in the other states. It’s been proven that when they lost trapping, the predation just goes out the roof,” said Joe Luna, president of the New Mexico Trappers Association.

Since the committee didn’t vote on the bill yet, they will continue hearing the bill on Saturday.

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