Leg-Hold Traps Are Killing Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves
Defenders of Wildlife has learned that four more Mexican gray wolves were trapped in New Mexico on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service over the last two months. Two of these wolves are from the Prieto Pack an all four trapping incidents occurred in New Mexico. At least 42 Mexican wolves have been caught by traps in the Southwest since 2002, an average of 2.5 each year.
One wolf, a female — possibly a mom — died after she was removed from the trap. Another, a young male, had his leg so severely injured it had to be amputated. Yet another had two legs caught in two separate traps, but it and the fourth wolf were re-released to the wild and their fate is unknown.
It’s hard to know how long they were trapped there, struggling to escape, dying of thirst or hunger or exposure. It is heartbreaking how many endangered Mexican gray wolves have been injured or killed as a result of commercial and recreational trapping in New Mexico. This is having a significant impact on the recovery of the species. Every wolf lost to trapping is unnecessary and unacceptable.
Leg-hold traps, snares and poisons are banned on public lands in Arizona and all lands in Colorado. We are encouraged that the New Mexico Legislature is currently considering long-overdue legislation that would address commercial and recreation trapping on public land or in areas with non-target species that might prevent future and unnecessary tragedies like this.
New Mexico House Bill 366, the Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act, was introduced on January 25, 2019. The Act would make it illegal to use a trap, snare or poison for purposes of capturing, injuring, or killing an animal on public land except in very limited circumstances. New Mexico Senate Bill 390, Trapping Regulation Changes, would direct the state game commission to consider fur-bearing animal populations, degree of public recreation, proximity to human population centers, and potential impacts to non-target species when developing trapping rules for public and private lands and the types of trap or snare devices that may be used.
Defenders is eager to see state and federal agencies, including New Mexico Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service, take action to stop this loss including prohibiting commercial and recreational trapping and poisons in the occupied range of the Mexican gray wolf so recovery goals can be reached.
We will have a place for you to submit comments soon. Please check back here in the next few days to raise your voice for the wolves who have none. With your help, Defenders is on the ground in Arizona and New Mexico, working at the state level, pushing for better wildlife policies in Washington D.C., and advocating to protect these animals in court.