Three years after Roxy, a blue heeler mix, was found strangled to death in an illegal trap, the man who was accused of putting out the trap will walk free. Eight-year-old Roxy, met a tragic fate while hiking with her owner near Santa Cruz Lake in northern New Mexico in 2018. The blue heeler mix got caught in a neck snare trap and choked to death as her owner tried to free her.

Officers with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish believed Marty Cordova, of Chimayo, put the traps there. When conservation officers searched Cordova’s home, they say they found pelts and skulls from bobcats, foxes, badgers, and ringtails.

Cordova was charged with 34 counts of illegal trapping. The case in Magistrate Court was dismissed a year later but was picked up by the state. “The state of New Mexico filed 23 of the original 34 counts in state district court,” said Yvonne Quintana, Marty Cordova’s attorney.

Quintana was able to get the counts whittled down to ten. “He’s been acquitted of all of the charges that went to the jury that were pending against him,” Quintana said.

Cordova’s attorney says issues with evidence played a key role in the acquittal. “With the missing evidence, it was just impossible. You know the snares that he’s accused of setting, they didn’t collect them. The snares that he’s accused of having no trapper ID on, they didn’t collect them,” Quintana said.

Following the case, Animal Protection New Mexico (APNM) helped file legislation called Roxy’s Law. It restricts traps, snares and poisons on public lands in the state. After several failed attempts, the legislation was finally signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham this year.

Even Cordova’s acquittal advocates say Roxy’s Law is helping the state change how it views and implements wildlife conservation.

“Roxy’s law was only able to pass because the majority of New Mexicans and the majority of lawmakers said alright it’s time to make a change and this really reflects the mindset that we already have,” said Chief Government Affairs Officer for APNM Jessica Johnson.

APNM wants to remind people to stay on trails and keep their dogs on leash on public lands. Roxy’s Law officially goes into effect on April 1.

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