By Mary Katherine Ray, Chapter Wildlife Chair
As a new season brings new conflicts, advocates look to legislators to end trapping on New Mexico public land
As we prepare for the 2021 Legislature and the reintroduction of Roxy’s Law to prohibit traps and poisons from public land, already three dogs that have been caught in traps and a gruesome discovery of skinned coyote carcasses are indications of the toll ahead for wildlife and pets as the trapping season is underway. Roxy was a dog killed by strangulation in a wire neck snare as her owner could not save her two years ago.
So far this trapping season, a dog hiking with her person on state trust land near Aztec, N.M., was caught in a trap on Nov. 14. Luckily, cell service was available and the dog’s owner summoned several other people to come help remove the trap and get the dog to a veterinarian. The dog is OK, but as commonly happens, the owner is now afraid to take the dog hiking and risk a repeat of the ordeal.
A week later on BLM land north of Santa Fe, hikers found a dog not belonging to them languishing in a trap and near death. It wasn’t clear if the dog would survive, but she was rescued and rushed to veterinary care, where after several days stabilizing her condition and rehydrating her, she had surgery to remove two mangled toes. Most of her foot was salvageable. The vet bills are in the thousands of dollars.
On Thanksgiving day, a search-and-rescue volunteer was hiking for pleasure with her dogs, both highly trained, when one was caught in a trap, also on BLM land. Luckily, having had instruction on opening a trap, the volunteer was able to release the dog — though she reported it was not easy to do in real life. And thankfully in this instance, the time spent did not compromise a human rescue situation.
In November, a hiker near Santa Teresa, N.M., came upon the bodies of nearly 40 dead and skinned coyotes. At first, they were so unrecognizable without their skins that the hiker thought they were greyhounds. But the skin remained on the feet, and close examination of the photographs of the scene clearly show that some of these animals had limb injuries consistent with having been trapped. Aside from the psychological trauma to the person making this discovery, these injuries also belie a common trapper claim that traps are not injurious or inhumane to wildlife.
You can help to end this. Please sign the petition at our coalition website, trapfreenm.org. That way you will be also signed up to get alerts to contact legislators urging the passage of Roxy’s Law during the legislative session, whatever form it takes. Let 2021 be the year we stop the cruelty and the exploitation of trapping on New Mexico’s public lands and pass Roxy’s Law.
Featured image: Coyote leg trap, photo by Joyce Fay