The New Mexico Wildlife Federation emphatically supports establishment of a statewide task force to study the future of trapping in New Mexico, as is being proposed in a memorial currently being drafted by Senator Pete Campos in the State Legislature. Few issues divide the New Mexico outdoor community more than trapping. Bills to ban trapping on public lands have come before the legislature three times in this and recent legislative sessions. Each time, NMWF stands up to say that regulated, ethical trapping is both an important wildlife management tool and a legitimate use of a renewable and sustainable wildlife resource that represents part of our outdoor heritage and tradition. We at NMWF continue to believe that trapping has a place in outdoor recreation, however, we believe that imprudent trapping by ignorant or careless bad actors sets the stage for conflict and horror stories. These give the public a distorted image about trapping that sometimes extend even to hunting in general.
NMWF has for several years pushed the State Game Commission to take significant steps to curb trapping-related conflicts with the non-consumptive public. Areas to explore include the establishment of a mandatory online ethics and best practices course for all trappers, greater setbacks away from high human traffic areas, closing high-conflict areas to trapping, establishing bag limits for bobcats and limiting trapping to residents only. Higher fines for violations could also be on the table; those require legislative action. We believe that forward- thinking regulation and not restrictive legislation can and should address New Mexico’s trapping conflicts.
When disagreements this large arise, NMWF believes that opposing sides should attempt to discuss their differences and come up with pragmatic solutions rather than continue to fight it out in the legislative arena. To that end, NMWF, on behalf of more than 80,000 New Mexico sportsmen and women, welcomes the opportunity to help create and participate in a statewide task force to study the look and future of trapping on public lands in New Mexico.