The NM Department of Game and Fish (NMG&F) is once again reviewing its trapping policies which it does every two years. It shouldn’t be this hard to affect change, but your help is needed. Here are two things you can do to help persuade them that traps do not belong on public land.
1. Many of you have already recently written or signed the letter to the NMG&F at our tabling events around the state this spring. If you were one of them, a huge thank you. If you have not written or signed anything this time around yet, it couldn’t be easier. You can use the sample letter below. Please feel free to personalize it. Or you can send your own. It doesn’t need to be long- a few lines are enough. Email it to Rick Winslow at Frederic.firstname.lastname@example.org . (Send a copy also to email@example.com )
2. Most importantly, please use the miracle of email to let your friends and family know as well. You don’t have to be an in-state resident or voter to add your comments. Kids can write too. (Children are shamefully allowed to trap after all and don’t even need a license if under 12 years old.) Public land belongs to everyone and no one should have to worry about having an encounter with a leg-hold trap or snare while using them. Please forward this request to your friends and family. We need as many comment letters as possible to let Game and Fish know there is still broad support to get traps off New Mexico’s public lands and that it is growing.
This review process happens every two years and your letters from two years ago have resulted in change. The game commission has passed a quasi-mandatory requirement that trappers at least report their kills. Of course, we will have to rely on trappers to be honest and accurate in this report. And oddly, if trappers fail to report, they will not be allowed to put in for any special draw hunts but will still be allowed to trap in the following season. It remains to be seen how much compliance there will be. Even though this change is a far cry from adequately protecting the public and wildlife from the scourge of traps, it would not have occurred without our collective voice of protest. Moreover, there have been staff changes at the Game Department and there are two new game commissioners. Even if you wrote then, please write again! Traps are simply not acceptable on New Mexico’s public land.
Here is a link to the latest issue of the Rio Grande Sierran with a front page article on trapping, http://www.riogrande.sierraclub.org/rgsierran_06_05_wb.pdf . And for general information on the problems with NM trapping, please visit the main trapping pages at http://riogrande.sierraclub.org/trapping/Index.htm
Mary Katherine Ray
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Here is a sample letter you may copy, paste and send to the new furbearer program coordinator, Rick Winslow, at Frederic.firstname.lastname@example.org :
Dear Mr. Winslow,
Leg-hold and lethal traps are not compatible with public use. They should not be permitted on New Mexico’s public land. The NM Department of Game and Fish has an obligation to everyone who enjoys wildlife not just people who buy licenses. Trappers are exploiting public wildlife for personal financial gain. The point is not wildlife management but to sell the skins of these animals. Trapping is not an ethical way to kill wildlife, it is not “fair chase”, nor is it sporting. By hiding traps on public land where other people may legitimately recreate, trappers place us and our animals at risk- a gross infringement of our rights.
Traps do not discriminate. In addition to the legally trapped species, others may be caught including the companion dogs of hikers, search and rescue dogs, and other wildlife including endangered species. The injuries incurred may range from lacerations, swelling, and lameness to broken bones, tissue damage and mutilations that are life-threatening. Trappers are not held accountable and face no penalties in these cases.
NM Game and Fish has not adequately monitored the effect that unlimited trapping has on the wildlife collectively called furbearers. It is not known how many of these animals there are, yet there are no bag limits for any species and no limit to the number of traps that may be set out. There is no information going forward on the effects this practice is having on animal populations or any consideration given to the toll taken by drought which is intensifying. Please stop this abusive practice on public land.
(be sure to include your name and physical address)