This is a response to “It’s time to ban trapping on New Mexico public lands,” by Michelle Lute. While I don’t agree with the author’s perspective on trapping, I do agree that we should listen to scientists.
Propaganda is communication that is used to influence an audience and further an agenda. Lute, having previously worked on behalf of Wildearth Guardians, an organization that has received thousands of dollars in donations with the specific goal of ending trapping in New Mexico may not be as objective as one would expect from a wildlife biologist. Lute has selectively presented facts in order to manipulate public perception of recreational trapping in New Mexico.
Without evidence, Lute claimed “science doesn’t support trapping.” Science does support the role of trapping in wildlife management, contrary to Lute’s claims. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, representing North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, notes some of the many benefits provided to the public through trapping; protecting endangered species (e.g. sea turtles, island and ground-nesting birds) during vulnerable life cycle periods, the reintroduction of threatened and endangered species, providing relief from property damage, protecting public health and safety.
Lute contradicts herself when she claimed she “learned to set traps in order to collar wolves” but also wants you to believe traps are cruel and indiscriminate. Even novice trappers understand it takes more than the ability to set a trap to be a successful trapper. On top of the long lists of rules and regulations, careful attention is paid to individual species behavior, biology, life cycles, site selection, and how the target animal uses habitat. The activity involves more than merely possessing the ability to set a trap.
Despite Lute’s claim accusing NMDGF of “kowtowing to anyone who wants to pay a pittance to the agency to kill animals,” federal and state law require NMDGF act as trustees of natural resources for the benefit of all. The Public Trust Doctrine, a cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife Management, holds that publicly owned wildlife resources are entrusted to the government (as trustee of these resources) to be managed on behalf of the public.
Lute’s frustration with state wildlife professionals at NMGF might explain her desire to bypass them entirely. Roxy’s Law is exactly that, an attempt to bypass professional wildlife managers through legislation. Roxy was an 8-year-old blue heeler mix who was strangled by an illegal snare placed by Marty Cordova. Cordova was charged in February 2019 with 34 counts of illegal trapping. Proponents of Roxy’s Law want the public to think this legislation is about preventing cruelty when, in reality, is about using the illegal activity of one person as an opportunity to bypass science and paint law-abiding trappers as cruel and uncaring. Ask your legislator to oppose this misleading bill that would do nothing to save Roxy or other dogs like her.
Correction: This version states Michelle Lute previously worked on behalf of Wildearth Guardians. A previous version incorrectly stated another organization.
Steven Childs is a resident of Duarte, California.
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Counterpoint: Listen to the science when it comes to trapping