December 5, 2012

New Mexico:Federal Court Dismisses New Mexico Trapping Lawsuit

On December 3rd, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico dismissed a lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians alleging that the State of New Mexico violated the federal Endangered Species Act by permitting trapping in the region designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Mexican gray wolf recovery area.

A broad coalition of interests including the New Mexico Trappers Association, New Mexico Council of Outfitters & Guides, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth, United Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Wool Growers and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council joined the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Chairman of the New Mexico State Game Commission to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit.

New Mexico Sportsmen’s Caucus and NASC Executive Council member, Representative Candy Ezell, weighed in on the decision, saying, “This small victory gives sportsmen and women hope that there is still sanity left in the world. Monday’s court decision sends a signal that states can and should have the ability to make science-based wildlife management decisions that best fit their needs without interference from outside interests that want to severely limit access to and use of the land.”

Ultimately, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia ruled that WildEarth Guardians failed to present sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the New Mexico State Game Commission’s decision to rescind a ban on trapping in southwestern New Mexico has resulted in the trapping or taking of federally protected Mexican gray wolves. In siding with the defendants, Magistrate Garcia also ruled that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, along with the Commission, could not be held responsible for wolf mortalities caused by trappers.

To read the U.S. District Court opinion, click here.

To read the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish press release following the Court decision, click here.

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?

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