SANTA FE — A bill to ban trapping and use of poisons on New Mexico’s public lands got a “Do Pass” vote from the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Saturday. It appears likely the bill will be amended as it moves through the legislative process in an effort to address concerns from the Game and Fish Department and livestock industry.
The game department wants assurances that the bill, HB 366, will not forbid methods it needs to address depredation on livestock on public lands. Cattle- and sheep growers say the bill as written would impede controls on livestock predators.
Representative Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, whose district includes extensive ranching and farming operations, said that, with the prospect of amendments being made, “I’m comfortable supporting this legislation today.”
Small said the bill’s sponsors and supporters need to work “closely and in collaboration with our important livestock industry to best address conflicts before they develop.”
New Mexico Wildlife Federation president John Crenshaw on Saturday reiterated the organization’s stance that the trapping issues should be addressed by the State Game Commission, rather than by legislation.
Jesse Deubel, executive director of the NMWF, testified at hearing on the bill this Thursday that if legislators see any need to pass a law in regard to trapping that they should enact a different bill, Senate Bill 390, sponsored by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas. Campos’ bill generally would leave it up to the New Mexico Game Commission to regulate trapping on public and private lands.
The motion to move the bill forward on Saturday passed by an eight-to-four vote along party lines, with Democrats in the majority. The vote came after about two and one-half hours of debate.
After hearing extensive public testimony on Thursday, Committee chairman Matthew McQueen, a co-sponsor of the trapping-ban legislation, set the Saturday hearing to give legislators time to debate the bill further before voting.
The bill’s next stop will be in the House Judiciary Committee.