Guest Column by Christopher Smith, Southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians.
If you’ve been around New Mexico enough, you’ve likely seen New Mexico Department of Game and Fish vehicles with stickers that read “Take a child hunting, fishing or trapping.” This message is seemingly innocuous and encourages young people – who are outside less and less – to get out into New Mexico’s wonderful outdoors. However, there are two reasons to rethink this message.
Hunting and angling – when done right and informed by the best available science – are fair-chase pursuits of food and learning. Trapping is, at best, a financial net-zero activity that perpetuates cruelty, privatizes a public resource, and endangers the safety of people, companion animals and imperiled species.
Trapping is highly unregulated in New Mexico: no bag limits, no accountability when companion animals are trapped, minimal setbacks from trails, homes and campgrounds, and little enforcement. Yet, the agency charged with stewarding our state’s wildlife perpetually calls for this activity not only to continue, but also to be taught to children.
The overarching message of “Take a child hunting, fishing or trapping” is also a problematic plea for money. It indicates a state agency that is stuck in the past without the vision and leadership needed to thrive in the 21st century.