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NM Legislature Considers 'Roxy's Law' to Ban Wildlife Traps

If approved by the New Mexico Legislature, "Roxy's Law," named for a dog killed by a trap meant for wild animals, would prohibit traps, snares and poisons on public land. (Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter)
If approved by the New Mexico Legislature, "Roxy's Law," named for a dog killed by a trap meant for wild animals, would prohibit traps, snares and poisons on public land. (Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter)
January 23, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. - A dog killed by a trap near Santa Cruz Lake is driving legislation expected to be introduced in the New Mexico Legislature this week to ban trapping on public lands.

The 8-year-old dog named Roxy was on a hike with her owner last November when she was caught in an unmarked neck-snare trap and died before the trap could be removed.

Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Sierra Club's Rio Grande Chapter and a member of the TrapFree New Mexico coalition, said "Roxy's Law" is needed because there are millions of acres of public land where snares and other dangerous traps may be set legally.

"This could happen to anyone," she said, "and the fact that we allow killing devices on our public lands where other people can legally and rightfully recreate with their companion animals, and in some cases working animals, just is so utterly senseless."

Traps legally can be set if they're 25 yards away from a road maintained annually with public funds, or from a trail marked on an agency map. Sponsors of the bill have said it would outlaw commercial trapping on public land, but not affect trapping for scientific purposes.

A similar bill to ban trapping on public lands was introduced in the 2017 session, but ranchers and trappers convinced lawmakers the practice was part of the state's heritage and said it's necessary to control wild carnivores. However, Ray argued that the economic benefit from tourists to the state also should be considered.

"When we invite people to New Mexico to enjoy our outdoor spaces, I mean, that's part of our heritage too. The tourism industry is huge here," she said. "To inflict these devices on them is just appalling, especially when our neighboring states of Arizona and Colorado don't do that."

Ray said New Mexico has no penalties for trappers who unintentionally trap non-target wildlife, including endangered species, protected species, domestic animals or even humans.

The bill will be introduced by Reps. Bobby Gonzales, D-Taos, and Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM