A ban on trapping on public lands throughout New Mexico is a step closer after the Senate Conservation Committee today (Tuesday, Feb. 2) voted by a wide margin to approve it. Senate Bill 32, known as the Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act, passed 7-2 after minimal public testimony was allowed. Only a handful of the public was allowed to testify, and of those, few were in opposition to the trapping ban. NM BHA sought permission to testify but was not chosen by the chair to speak. We did, however, attend all three meetings the bill was on the agenda and submitted written testimony opposing SB 32.
The only senators voting against the ban were Sen. David Gallegos of Eunice and Steven Neville of Aztec. Our thanks go to both of them.
The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee is chaired by Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, who has already shown where he stands on the bill – he was one of the seven who voted to pass it out of Senate Conservation.
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing but NM BHA will keep you posted. In the meantime, please contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially if you live in their district, and ask them to oppose SB 32.
NM BHA stands against SB 32 for many reasons, including the need to leave wildlife management in New Mexico to the Department of Game and Fish and the State Game Commission. Last year the commission, relying on public input from the trapping community and groups including NM BHA, adopted a slew of measures aimed at reducing friction over trapping on public lands, including mandatory trapper education, restricted trapping in certain high-traffic recreation areas and increasing the setback distance between trailheads and traps to ½ mile. These regulations just went into effect November 1. We believe an all-out ban on trapping on public lands is premature and unnecessary.
In addition, trapping is an important management tool that is compatible with our guiding principles as set forth in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the Public Trust Doctrine, which define fish and wildlife resources as the property of the people to be managed by the state and federal agencies entrusted with their stewardship. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers acknowledges this model as the foundation of science-based fish and wildlife management and we support hunting, fishing and trapping as appropriate management tools. BHA does not endorse advancing wildlife management policies and decisions by state or federal legislation or voter referendums and ballot initiatives unless requested by wildlife managers for the purposes of executing management prescriptions. We are obligated as an organization committed to hunters and anglers to advance sound stewardship policies that are guided by science over politics, emotion and conjecture. Therefore, we remain supportive of existing legal trapping policies and methods of take authorized and managed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
To join us in opposing SB 32 please submit thoughtful and respectful comments to the Senators listed below that serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If you are a constituent in one of these Senator’s districts be sure to mention that to them. If you do not know who your Senator is simply plug your address into our Elected Officials directory here.
Senate Judiciary Committee