Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator
On October 21, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined eight other New Mexico based groups in asking Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham to oppose two rules proposed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Commission (NMDGF) that would negatively impact trapping throughout the state.
The Bear and Cougar Rule change proposes an outright ban on the use of traps and foot snares in recreational harvest of cougar, with no differentiation between public and private land. According to the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish, there is an estimated population between 3,000 to 4,000 cougars residing in the state. Cougar harvest limits, which are set by the New Mexico State Game Commission, have not reached the state maximum threshold in some time. As apex predators, if cougar populations are not properly controlled, an increase in the overall number of cougars will likely result in greater threat to people, pets, wildlife and livestock. Recreational trapping is one of the many tools that the NMDGF uses to actively manage cougar populations and reduce human-cougar conflict in the state.
The Trapping and Furbearer Rule change proposes placing a setback distance of one-half mile from all trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, occupied dwellings, boat launches, and road side rest areas. It also bans land sets from being used in the Sandia Ranger District, the Eastern portion of Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument and U.S. Forest Service lands within one-half mile of NM Hwy 475 on the Santa Fe National Forest and NM Hwy 150 on the Carson National Forest. Under current regulations, an individual can trap 25 yards off of trails and trail heads and a quarter of a mile away from roadside rest areas and picnic areas. The proposed setback changes could negatively impact trapping on private land. Under the proposed new regulation, any trailhead that is under a half a mile away from private property would prohibit that properties owner(s) from being able to trap on their property.
The letter to Gov. Grisham was spearheaded by the Sportsmen’s Alliance and, in addition to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, was signed by New Mexico Trappers, Fur Takers of America, New Mexico Wild Sheep Foundation, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc., and Texas Trappers and Fur Hunters Association.
Interested persons may submit comments on the proposed changes to the Bear and Cougar rule via email to: DGF-BearCougar-Rules@state.nm.us, or individuals may submit written comments to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, 1 Wildlife Way, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507. Written comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on November 19. The final proposed rule will be voted on by the Commission during a public meeting on November 21, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish office, 1615 W. College Blvd., Roswell, NM 88201. Interested persons may attend and provide data, views or arguments, orally or in writing during this time as well.
Interested persons may also submit comments on the proposed changes to the Trapping and Furbearer rule via mail: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Attn: Furbearer Rule Development, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504; or by email at email@example.com.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?