New Mexico Game Commission votes to end recreational cougar trapping

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(November 22, 2019)—Yesterday, the New Mexico State Game Commission voted unanimously to approve a new regulation that ends recreational cougar trapping in the state beginning in 2020. The decision follows a lawsuit waged by Animal Protection of New Mexico and the Humane Society of the United States, which argued that indiscriminate traps and snares threatened legally protected species including Mexican wolves, and that trophy hunting quotas for cougars were unsustainably high. The approved rule also substantially reduces hunting quotas for cougars throughout the state, albeit at levels that are still far higher than what is considered sustainable by the best available science.

“Cougars have a crucial role in the balance of nature and the Commission’s vote to stop cruel recreational cougar trapping was the right decision” stated Laura Bonar, chief program and policy officer for Animal Protection of New Mexico. “We urge the Commission to take the next logical step which is to prohibit all traps and snares on public lands. Trapping and public lands are incompatible.”

The 2015 decision to open recreational cougar trapping using steel-jawed leghold traps and snares for the first time in nearly five decades elicited statewide outcry. New Mexico was only one of two states in the continental United States that authorized the practice. In addition to exposing cougars to extreme pain and suffering, trapping presented a mortal and unlawful threat to non-target species, including Mexican wolves, cougar kittens and their mothers, and pets. As of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that fewer than 150 Mexican wolves remained in the wild in the United States.

“While the new cougar rule is far from perfect, we applaud the Commission for terminating the barbaric and pointless practice of recreational trapping,” said Nicholas Arrivo, staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “There is no moral or scientific justification for inflicting such indiscriminate pain on New Mexico’s cherished wildlife.”

Despite the progress made on trapping, the new regulation authorizes substantial trophy hunting of both cougars and black bears throughout the state. From 2020 through 2024, New Mexico hunters will be permitted to kill 580 cougars and more than 800 black bears annually, despite the Department of Game and Fish’s lack of reliable population estimates for either species.

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APNM Media Contact:

Laura Bonar, laura@apnm.org , 505-401-8936

Animal Protection of New Mexico advocates for animals by effecting systemic change and working towards the humane treatment of all animals since 1979. For more information, please visit apnm.org

HSUS Media Contact:

Kirsten Peek: kpeek@humanesociety.org; 202.744.3875

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at humanesociety.org.  

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