Two Steps Forward For Humane Wildlife Management

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Two Steps Forward For Humane Wildlife Management

SANTA FE — Monday, the New Mexico House Judiciary Committee voted 7-5 to pass House Bill 366, the bill to restrict the use of traps, snares, and poisons on public lands.

The bill will next be heard on the House floor. Later in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 to pass Senate Bill 76, the bill to prohibit coyote killing contests, sending that bill to the Senate floor.

HB 366 represents a reasonable solution designed to protect wildlife, companion animals, and citizens enjoying public lands from unnecessary and accidental suffering, injuries, and death. It also better aligns the management of wildlife with modern conservation practices and New Mexico voters’ humane values—while still allowing certain key tools for ranchers and government agencies to protect public health and livestock.

The bill received support from Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) who spoke of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the concept that “wildlife belongs to all the people of the state.” He contrasted the commercialization of furbearers through trapping with the state’s prohibition against selling parts from elk or other hunted animals.

Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque) added that restricting traps, snares, and poisons from public land would be beneficial to New Mexico’s tourism economy.

Monday’s hearing on SB 76 addressed the gruesome, fringe practice of organized killing contests, where participants compete to kill the most, the largest, and the smallest coyotes over a period of time. In recent years, New Mexico has become the focus of unwanted global attention because of these contests, with at least 25-35 taking place every year across the state.

Killing contests are widely decried by conservation experts, sportsmen, and wildlife advocates alike. Killing contests hurt New Mexico’s reputation as a desirable place to live or recreate, they violate conservation hunting ethics, and hurt New Mexico’s rural economy. Scientific studies show that coyotes whose pack structures are disrupted by random mass killing will breed more within the pack and experience higher pup survival, thereby increasing populations and incidents of conflict with livestock and humans.

Jessica Johnson, Animal Protection Voters’ Chief Legislative Officer, said, “We are grateful to New Mexico legislators for supporting greater stewardship of our state’s wildlife that is grounded in science and humane values. We hear from rural and urban New Mexicans alike that our state’s wildlife are crucial to the state’s ecosystems and economy, and their management needs an overhaul.”