One more winter of trap vigilance

By Mary Katherine Ray, Chapter Wildlife chair

Trapping season will be upon us beginning November 1. While we still are celebrating that the New Mexico Legislature passed and the governor signed Roxy’s Law banning traps from public land, it won’t take effect until April 1, 2022. The licensing year at New Mexico Game and Fish runs from April 1 to March 31. That is the timeframe in which all the rule booklets are printed and licenses issued. So there is one more winter in which it will still be legal to hide traps on National Forest, BLM and State Trust lands where the public may also be recreating.

This means one more winter where traps may be placed as close as 25 yards from official trails or roads without restriction, and even directly in the path of those that are “unofficial.” Hikers should carry a pair of cable cutters to free a dog caught in a wire snare — the device that killed Roxy by strangulation — and know how to open a steel-jawed leghold trap. There are videos on www.trapfreenm.org with clear instructions.

Every winter, we dread learning of dogs or wildlife caught in and injured by traps. You are legally allowed to rescue your dog but not wildlife. If you find a trap or trapped animal, you may contact New Mexico Game and Fish, especially if there are questions about legality.

The Operation Game Thief number is 800-432-4263. A warden should get back to you. Also, please let TrapFreeNM.org know.

Last winter, even before the passage of Roxy’s Law, trapping license sales, which number around 2,000 each year in New Mexico, were down by around 25%. Did the requirement that trappers spend a few hours completing a trapping education course dissuade license-buyers? Pelt prices also dropped, and that surely contributed. But trapping season will end on New Mexico public lands for the last time on March 15. Then we can truly celebrate!

Featured image: Bobcats are a frequent trap victim. Traps are allowed on New Mexico public lands until March.

One more winter of trap vigilance