Originally published by the Albuquerque Journal, March 31, 2022 (link)
By Jessica Johnson, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Animal Protection Voters
With warmer weather, many of us are reaching for our hiking boots, backpacks, and dog leashes – and we can finally breathe a little easier. That’s because, as of April 1, 2022, we have entered a new era of safe and humane enjoyment of New Mexico’s public lands.
After nearly two decades of work by Animal Protection Voters, allies and grassroots advocates to lobby our state government to restrict the wanton use of traps, snares and poisons, the Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act was passed and signed into law in 2021.
Nicknamed “Roxy’s Law” after a dog named Roxy who died in a neck snare during a hike with her family, the new state law prohibits all traps – including leghold traps, “Conibear” body-gripping traps and cage traps – snares, and wildlife poisons on public lands, except when the activity meets a narrow set of exceptions listed in the law. Learn more about the law at TrapsDontBelong.org.
New Mexico now has one of the strongest restrictions on traps, snares and poisons in the country – and for very good reason.
The outdoor recreation industry is an important segment of New Mexico’s economic future, relying considerably on shared use of public lands. Every story told by residents or tourists about their dogs being caught or killed in traps, or about finding suffering or dead wildlife in traps, was a black mark on that future. By the time “Roxy’s Law” was signed into law, our coalition collected roughly 150 reports of terrifying incidents, illegal trapping citations and endangered species captured on public lands.
Wildlife are a crucial part of New Mexico’s ecosystem. The limitless destruction of thousands of wild animals every year, using painful and lethal implements left unattended on public land, no longer fits with modern conservation science and notions of humane wildlife management.
Finally, the use of traps, snares and poisons as a hobby, to profit from the fur trade or as a haphazard way to extinguish animals perceived as a nuisance is simply cruel. Causing an animal unnecessary suffering is unacceptable, especially when more humane alternatives are available.
“Roxy’s Law,” like any law, is only as strong as it is enforced – and all New Mexicans will benefit from a collective awareness of the law and a determination to see it enforced.
- If you find a trap, snare or poison on public land: Note the location and, if possible, take photos. But do not tamper with, remove or destroy the device without authorization. Doing so could be dangerous and would be illegal if the device is allowed under a Roxy’s Law exception.
- If you suspect the device may be illegal, report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Only they can investigate an incident, determine illegality, file charges and prosecute violations.
- Call the Animal Cruelty Helpline at 1-877-5-HUMANE (1-877-548-6263). Helpline staff will document the incident and work with you to contact or follow up with law enforcement.
The passage of “Roxy’s Law” was only possible because the majority of New Mexicans persistently pushed for safer, more humane public lands. And the next time you wander along a trail or toward a scenic overlook, with your dog safely in tow, without worry about a trap, snare or poison lurking underfoot – remember to thank the state policymakers who answered the call to action.
For more information, go to apvnm.org