House of Representatives
Bill Number: N/A
Bill Number: Senate Bill 286
Sponsor: Sen. Pete Campos (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. Gay G. Kernan (R-Hobbs)
Status: Heard by the Senate Conservation Committee, rolled over to allow for sponsor to work on a committee substitute bill to address technical issues. Died in this committee without a second hearing.
The New Mexico Wildlife Protection & Public Safety Act will protect wildlife, companion animals, and citizens enjoying New Mexico’s public lands from unnecessary and accidental suffering, injuries and deaths—and better align the management of wildlife with modern conservation practices and New Mexico voters’ humane values.
It will also help prevent the emotional and financial strain of dealing with the loss or injury of a companion animal to the jaws of a trap or lethal poison.
What does this bill do?
This bill prohibits the use of dangerous poisons and deadly, indiscriminate traps on New Mexico’s public lands unless the use meets one of the bill’s exemptions.
Why restrict body-gripping traps and poisons on public lands?
They are indiscriminate and cause needless suffering.
Body-gripping traps used in New Mexico (leg-hold or foot-hold traps, Conibear (body-crushing) traps, and snares) are inhumane and haphazard. Because they are non-selective, both targeted and non-targeted animals—including family cats and dogs, and endangered species—fall victim to traps. Captured animals often further injure themselves while thrashing or even chewing off their own trapped limb while trying to escape. Traps often go unchecked for long enough that the animal starves, dies of dehydration or exposure, or is killed by another animal before being found.
Toxic poisons such as sodium cyanide (used in M-44s) and Compound 1080 are unacceptably lethal, dangerous, and indiscriminate. These poisons are notorious for accidentally killing non-target animals including people’s pets, resulting in horrific and excruciating deaths within minutes (M-44s) or as long as 9 traumatic hours of cardiac failure, respiratory arrest, and severe prolonged convulsions leading to eventual death (Compound 1080).
Current regulations are inadequate and impossible to enforce.
Outdoor recreationists and their companion animals have the right to enjoy lands off-trail or off-road and can stumble onto traps and poisons. But in New Mexico, traps can be placed as close as 25 yards away from marked hiking trails or public roads and ¼-mile from a home, and there is no requirement that signage alert people to the presence of a trap. It is practically impossible to ensure traps are checked every calendar day. There are also frequent reports of traps illegally placed too close to trails and picnic areas that have injured hikers’ dogs. Many of these traps do not have the required identification information, so the violators are never found.
They are not necessary to manage carnivore species to protect livestock.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that carnivores kill only 0.18% of the total U.S. cattle inventory and 4% of the sheep inventory. Many non-lethal methods—including pens, sheds, and guard animals—are effective and widely available.
They are completely unrelated to species population control or disease control.
Trapping is market driven—the number of traps littering our lands increases with pelt price, not population levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and numerous other scientific, public health and veterinary organizations, there is no scientific evidence that trapping or poisoning controls the spread of disease.
It makes economic sense.
The presence of dangerous traps and poisons littering New Mexico’s public lands discourages wildlife watchers from spending their time—and money—in the Land of Enchantment. According to the most recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Survey of Wildlife-associated Recreation, each year 787,000 people specifically seek to view and photograph wildlife in New Mexico. In contrast trappers represent only a fraction of the population, with only approximately 2,000 individuals buying a trapping license, many from out-of-state who cash in on wildlife pelts used in the fashion industry at the expense of wildlife and public safety.
This bill is a reasonable solution.
It will reduce the number of non-target animals injured or killed on the public lands our citizens share—while still allowing certain key tools for private landowners, farmers, ranchers, and government agencies to protect certain important public and private interests.
The Following Uses and Purposes Are Still Allowed:
All individuals still have the
right to use traps and poisons on private and tribal lands in accordance with existing laws.
Legitimate scientific research using traps is allowed.
All hunting and angling is allowed in accordance with Dept. of Game & Fish regulations.
And on Public Lands…
All government entities can:
- use any traps and poisons when it is the only feasible way to protect human health and safety;
- use Conibear traps in water to capture beaver, muskrats, or nutria when it is the only feasible way to protect public waterways, levees, or dams;
- use poisons to exterminate prairie dogs or gophers when it is the only feasible way to abate damage to property, crops, or livestock;
All individuals can:
- use confinement traps (e.g. live cage traps) to take wildlife or feral animals when it is the only feasible way to abate damage to property, crops, or livestock;
- trap mice, rats, or gophers when it is the only feasible way to abate damage to property, crops, or livestock;
State and federal agencies can:
- use traps and poisons in the course of duties for ecosystem management;
The Dept. of Game & Fish and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service can:
- use traps to protect threatened or endangered species;
- take fish or other nonmammalian aquatic wildlife lawfully.
August 2015 Poll of New Mexico Voters:
“Do you support or oppose allowing the use of steel-jawed leghold traps or snares in New Mexico?”
Oppose Traps and Snares: 69% Support 22% – (Remington Research Group)
What Have Other States Done?
8 states ban leghold traps, 14 states ban body-gripping traps, 20 ban snares. Our neighbors in the West include:
- AZ – banned traps, snares, and poisons on public lands (1994 ballot initiative, 58.5%)
- CO – banned traps, snares, and poisons on all lands (1996 ballot initiative, 52.1%)
- WA – banned body-gripping traps and poisons on all lands (2000 ballot initiative, 54.6%)