An all-out ban on public lands trapping throughout New Mexico known as the “Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act” inched closer Friday night when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor, 5-1. But now, "time" is on trappers’ side.
SB32 now goes to the full Senate for approval. If the bill passes, it still must get through one or more House committees and a vote by the full House. With the Legislature scheduled to adjourn in just two weeks, that schedule will be tough to meet.
Opponents of SB32, including NMBHA, thought the bill might be dead because of the long time it took for Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Cervantes to schedule a hearing. But late Thursday afternoon the bill finally appeared on the committee’s calendar – 90 minutes before the deadline to sign up to testify. NMBHA and other opponents of the bill were unable to sign up and the committee refused to bend the rules.
Hopes rose when the hearing started and SB32, which was first on the schedule, was skipped over. The committee heard half a dozen other bills before it finally came back to SB32 around 6:30 p.m. Supporters of the ban had signed up in droves, but only half a dozen opponents were allowed to speak.
Ty Jackson, representing the NM Conservation Officers Association, noted that trapping regulations changed last year “appear to be working” and asked that they be given time before banning trapping on all public lands.
None of the arguments appeared to sway the committee – even those from committee member Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, an Albuquerque Democrat and attorney. He argued that the state could not regulate trapping on federal lands, and tried unsuccessfully to amend it and remove certain federal lands from its jurisdiction. He also questioned the public policy goal of banning all New Mexicans from trapping on public lands, yet allowing enrolled members of a Native American tribe or pueblo from being allowed to trap on those same public lands for ceremonial purposes – a thorny issue that will confront conservation officers if the bill passes.
The committee brushed aside Ivey-Soto’s concerns and passed the bill nevertheless, with Ivey-Soto the only objection. None of the committee’s three Republicans were there for the final vote.
NMBHA will continue to oppose SB32 and encourages everyone to contact their own state senator! CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION
Ask them to leave wildlife management – including trapping – in the hands of professional wildlife managers and give the new rules time to reduce conflict on public lands.