Despite overwhelming support from New Mexicans to eliminate cruel trapping practices — some 69 percent of voters disapprove of the use of traps or snares on our public lands — the rules currently being considered by the State Game Commission do not go far enough. The people of New Mexico need to speak up before time runs out.

Before the New Mexico Game and Fish Department’s commission rubber stamps inadequate rules to regulate trapping on public lands, citizens must let officials — especially Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham — know that they want better for animals in New Mexico.

Public meetings already have occurred to discuss proposed rule changes in Raton and Roswell, and another is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, in Las Cruces. The final meeting takes place Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Albuquerque. Written comments can be sent via email to or by regular mail to NM DGF, Attn: Furbearer Rule Development, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, N.M. 87504.

Here’s why the rules need to change. Trapping is cruel, not just for the fur-bearing animals caught, but for the stray family dog, domestic livestock or even the occasional wandering human who ends up in a trap or snare.

For years, New Mexicans from all walks of life have pushed for changes to New Mexico’s antiquated trapping laws. With the election of a Democratic governor with a pro-animal and wildlife bent, there was hope that even before laws could be changed, the Game and Fish Department might adopt sensible rule changes. That doesn’t seem to be happening. The proposed changes to current practices might ban the use of poison and forbid traps and snares in certain high-traffic areas and at trailheads, but those are surface changes.

The rules still would allow few limits on the placement of dangerous steel-jaw traps and snares — by trails and roads and as close as a half-mile to picnic areas, rest areas or campgrounds. The rules place no bag limits on protected fur-bearers, including raccoons, badgers, foxes or bobcats, to name a few. New Mexico trappers won’t need a license to catch the “unprotected” coyotes or skunks. They can be killed all year long. As it is, a trapping license is just $20.

Yes, the rules will make clear what animals can’t be trapped legally — such as a mink or river otter — but we doubt that a trap or snare can differentiate between an animal that is legal to trap and one that isn’t. Trappers don’t even have to post warning signs so public land users can protect kids or pets as they enjoy the outdoors that belongs to all of us.

These rules are unacceptable — and we regret the Legislature’s failure to act over the years to stop the menace of these traps. Something akin to Roxy’s Law — named after a family pet killed in a trap by Santa Cruz Lake — is the best method of stopping the cruelty of trapping. Sadly, Roxy’s Law did not make it out of the state House of Representatives.

New Mexico wants to be a state that cares for its animals, but over the years, the pull of so-called tradition and fear of upsetting certain voters has left in place cruel practices — that’s why it took decades to outlaw coyote-killing contests and cockfighting. It’s time to reform trapping rules.

Read the Editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican »