Three things you can do to stop trapping

By Denise Fort,
Wildlife Team volunteer

The trapping of wildlife is barbaric, a relic of a time when species were extirpated in the West to supply fashion houses across the world. As wildlife populations shrink in New Mexico and the value of wildlife viewing is beginning to be understood, it is long past time for the state to ban trapping. The painful encounters of dogs and other animals in traps is bringing this practice to widespread condemnation.

A constellation of unfortunate policies has taken us to this place. The regulation of hunting is in the hands of state game commissions. New Mexico’s Game Commission, as Sierrans know, is appointed by the governor and reflects a narrow range of anti-wildlife positions. The problem is deeper than this governor; it is that the state does not protect ecological value or wildlife, so the focus is on killing in the guise of managment of (and revenues from) “game” species.

A second policy is that of federal deference to these pro-hunting state commissions. Thus, if states fail to protect nongame species from hunting and trapping, federal land managers follow, and wildlife on our federal lands are no better managed than are state and private lands.

If this issue touches you, there are several ways you can make a difference.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer has introduced legislation to prohibit certain traps on federal lands (LIFT for Public Safety). Let’s get our House members to sign on. All  — Reps. Ben Ray Lujan, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Steve Pearce — have contact forms on their websites.

A coalition of groups, including our Sierra Club chapter, will be back in the Legislature this January with legislation to stop trapping on public lands and to end animal-killing contests. Now is the time to speak to your state legislators and try to line up support from chambers of commerce, newspapers, etc. The economic value of wildlife viewing is becoming evident around the state; why wouldn’t we provide more opportunities to New Mexico’s visitors and residents?

These issues also highlight the importance of your vote! Check our endorsements page for  the Sierra Club list of endorsed candidates, all of whom have voiced their opposition to trapping. Who is elected will make the difference on whether these bills can prevail!

Third, we are examining whether the BLM and Forest Service will close an area of high recreational use to trapping using existing regulatory authority. Santa Fe’s Caja del Rio is one such area, where we hike, picnic and enjoy splendid views. Noodles, a border collie mix, was taking her human on a hike up the mesa when she was caught in a leg-hold trap.

This and similar occurrences on other recreational lands is unacceptable; why should those who profit from selling coyote skins to foreign buyers outweigh the interests of everyone else? Speak to those who are managing your national forests and public lands and ask them to use their authority to restrict trapping. You can join the mailing list for the Santa Fe National Forest Plan Revision by writing to santafeforestplan@fs.fed.us.

I never understand why a fight grabs my attention, in the midst of polluting electric companies, water grabs, and so much more, but I’ve seen too much cruelty to animals to be silent. Together, we can and will win these battles to protect and restore wildlife in our state.

To volunteer for our anti-trapping efforts, write to Mary Katherine Ray at mkrscrime@gmail.com.

Featured image – coyote leg trap, photo by Joyce Fay.

Three things you can do to stop trapping
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4 thoughts on “Three things you can do to stop trapping

  • October 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm
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    If the Sierra club does in fact, recognize science as an absolute, then you have already lost your battle to stop the killing of wildlife. The reason that activist groups such as the Sierra club have never been successful in ending hunting and trapping as a whole, is because those activities are scientifically sound management tools. The responsibility of managing lands and wildlife is not always pretty, cute and cuddly. Real conservation efforts require cutting of trees and managing wildlife numbers. It is the most responsible thing to do. We must, as the caretakers of our earth, seek to keep our personal feelings out of the way of sound, scientific conservation practices. We can, in fact, “Love” our wild lands and their wild inhabitants to DEATH! Look at the California wildfires that were made inherently worse by legislation that banned logging and resulted in the tinderbox that California is today. There are many more documented instances of death and destruction caused by uninformed, non-scientific legislation brought into law by “animal welfare” groups like the Sierra club, than anything that legal means of wildlife management such as logging, hunting and trapping have ever been proven to cause. To the contrary, the acts hunting and trapping actually place a monetary value on healthy wildlife numbers. The moneys that are raised through legislative acts such as the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, which is funded by dollars spent on hunting, fishing and trapping, are used to support all wildlife and their respective habitats. The great conservation success stories of the wild turkey, the American bison and the Rocky Mountain elk, are just a few of the battles that have been fought and won with the use of sportsman dollars. We as sportsmen and women, love to have plenty of wildlife for all of us to share, whether it be for hunting, or just seeing a majestic bull elk tending to his harem of cows on our public land during a Sunday outing with the family. We all have the same basic end goal in mind, to have healthy wildlife populations and their habitat for future generations to enjoy. Imagine what we could do for wildlife if we could all work together, instead of against each other!

  • October 17, 2017 at 9:38 pm
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    We often hear that trapping is just another ‘management tool’. However for the word ‘management’ to apply, you have to have a plan, a way to monitor the plan and a way to measure it’s success. In New Mexico, not one of these parts is in place. NM does not know the population of any trapped species with any certainty and most certainly does not know how these populations are trending. Besides trapping, animals like bobcats and foxes and badgers also face increasing threat from habitat loss and extreme weather that includes terrible drought. Yet the trapping rules allow trappers to kill an unlimited number of these species over more than 1/3 of the year. There are no quotas or trapping units to spread trappers apart. NM Game and Fish does not even know where traps are being set or in what number. Instead, trapping is driven strictly by the vagaries of the global fashion market which determines how much or how little a pelt is worth which in turn drives the effort to which trappers go to satisfy that market. Rather than responsible management, this is nothing but reckless profiteering from our wildlife.
    Plus the argument that humans must do something or something bad will happen to nature doesn’t hold water. In National parks where there is no trapping, hunting or logging, we don’t see nature upended and out of balance. Fire is natural. Of course fire is becoming more catastrophic generally because Climate change is altering rainfall patterns and causing them to be hotter, more likely in all seasons and more damaging. Logging does not stop these fires when humidity is low and temperatures and winds are high. Nothing stops them.
    In fact, logging removes the large, thick barked trees that are most resistant to fire- but which have the most commercial value. What replaces these trees or what is left are shrubs and small trees that just act as kindling. In fact, decades of ecological research has shown that logging, both of burned and un-burned areas is strongly linked to declines in many wildlife species. Plus many fires are not catastrophic even still today. They are a beneficial part of the cycles of nature and are required for rejuvenation that logging simply cannot mimic.
    You should also know that non-consumptive users of nature, hikers, backpackers, wildlife watchers and photographers are a significant driver of local economies compared to hunting. This is just because of raw numbers. In fact, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has just released its latest survey that is done every 5 years on Wildlife Associated Recreation. https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/subpages/nationalsurvey/nat_survey2016.pdf The 2016 survey found that the number of hunters over the previous 5 years declined by 16% to only 11.5 million people who engage in it nationwide. During the same time, the number of wildlife viewers and photographers has increased by 19.7% to 86 million participants- over 7x more. Moreover, the viewers generate three times the revenue for the national economy. Trapping participants are so few in number, they don’t even register in this survey.
    In the states where trapping is severely restricted such as Colorado, Washington and California, nothing bad has happened. We know from polling that people overwhelmingly find trapping abhorrent. They can rest easy that it is unnecessary as well.

  • October 22, 2017 at 3:41 am
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    Over the last 100 years, hunting and trapping have become extremely successful wildlife management tools in the US and Canada. They also generate revenue for wildlife research. I can see no reason why we should attack people in the hunting and trapping communities whom would otherwise be our allies. Wildlife ranges of many North American species are increasing, and where they are not, habitat loss is usually to blame, not hunting/trapping.

  • December 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm
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    In what way is trapping a successful wildlife management tool? What is being managed besides the trappers’ profits? Our NM game and fish agency has no idea what the populations of ‘furbearers’ are or what effect trapping has on them. The number of traps being set and where they are placed is unknown and un-monitored. Trapping is categorically NOT management driven.
    Moreover, our Sierra Club efforts to rein in trapping have nothing to do with hunting which is a completely different activity. Hunters have to identify their targets and strive to minimize suffering by making clean shots. Traps inherently are indiscriminate and the suffering from the struggle in the trap which can go on for hours can be brutal. How is it even fair chase when the trapper is not even present when the animal is caught? Hunters cannot use bait lures or hunt at night for deer or elk. Why is that ok for bobcats and foxes? In our view it isn’t.
    When it comes to conservation, a New Mexico trapping license only costs $20. Trappers in all likelihood are barely covering the cost of administration and law enforcement. They are not funding conservation.

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