On Thursday, New Mexico’s Game Commission voted unanimously on the Department of Game and Fish’s proposal to lift a ban on trapping of furbearing animals.
A ban was put in place in parts of the state last year under former Governor Bill Richardson, who supported wolf recovery efforts and also noted that traps can’t differentiate between protected species and their target prey, according to the Associated Press.
Concern over the threat of trapping to Mexican gray wolves is also a point of contention over the ban. Mexican gray wolves were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, at which point they were essentially gone from the Southwest as a result of human encroachment into their territory and a government sanctioned killing spree. Today, there are only an estimated 50 in the U.S.
At the time the ban was put in place, there had been six confirmed and three probable Mexican wolves trapped, which left five injured and two requiring leg amputations. More than a dozen wolves have lost legs in traps, and continued to survive in the wild, yet for some asinine reason, traps have been legal in parts of New Mexico’s wolf recovery area where one of the most endangered animals in the U.S. lives.
The ban was extended to provide researchers more time to study the effects of trapping/snaring on wolves, but the findings have yet to be released.
According to the Sierra Club, more than 5,000 residents sent messages, petitions, letters and e-mails to each commissioner asking that leg-hold traps, snares and other body-crushing traps be kept off of public lands. Unfortunately, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Wendy Keefover, director of WildEarth Guardians’ carnivore protection program, said she believes the commissioners had already made up their minds about the ban. Most of them were appointed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who has expressed concerns about the wolf program’s impacts on ranchers, reports the AP.
A growing number of countries has recognized the cruelty of using leg-hold and other traps and have taken steps to ban this inhumane practice. Yet only eight states in the U.S. have banned, or restricted, their use leaving countless wild and domestic animals vulnerable to the pain they cause.
Photo credit: USFWS via flickr
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