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NM Governor to Decide Fate of "Roxy's" Trapping Law

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From raccoons to bald eagles to domestic pets, at least four million animals die in traps each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. (apvnm.org)
From raccoons to bald eagles to domestic pets, at least four million animals die in traps each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. (apvnm.org)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
March 23, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A dog that died through no fault of its own on a hike with its owner near Santa Cruz Lake in 2019 could leave a lasting legacy if a bill headed to the governor's desk is signed into law.

"Roxy's Law," technically the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act, passed the New Mexico House of Representatives last week.

It would prohibit traps, snares and poisons on public lands.

Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Rio Grande Sierra Club and a member of the TrapFree New Mexico Coalition, said it's taken several tries to get "Roxy's Law" through the Legislature.

"Roxy's law is named for a dog who actually died in her owner's arms in a neck snare," Ray explained. "And like all these devices, they're mindless; they don't make any decision on whether that is the 'correct' animal or not."

There are exceptions in the law that allow for use of traps or poisons when necessary to protect public safety, or for ecosystem management.

But Ray noted the bill would largely make New Mexico public lands trap-free. Trapping on private and tribal land would still be allowed.

Bills similar to Roxy's Law have been introduced in the Roundhouse since 2017.

Ray pointed out in neighboring Arizona, such lethal traps are outlawed on public lands, and statewide across Colorado, and added it is time New Mexico followed suit.

"We talk about New Mexico's tourism industry," Ray remarked. "Having these devices, where people can get harmed by them, puts us at a big disadvantage in our outdoor economy. So, I think the time has come."

The legislation easily made it out of the Senate by a vote of 23 to 16, but passed in the House last week by the slimmest of margins, 35 to 34.

Opponents argued the bill should wait until it can be determined if new rule changes to wildlife management, including education and trapping prohibitions within a half-mile of trailheads, are working.

Disclosure: Sierra Club, Rio Grande Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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