The New Mexico State Game Commission has banned cougar trapping for sport and lowered the number of big cats that can be killed each year in some hunting zones.

The cougar rule changes, approved Thursday in Roswell, mark a departure from regulations enacted in 2015 and will be revisited in four years under a new commission policy.

The commission also approved a ban on traps and snares on public lands around Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos and Las Cruces, and within a half-mile of official trailheads. Training for trappers would be mandatory.

Wildlife advocates lauded the new rules, but said the State Game Commission needs to go further by banning all traps and snares on all public land, which encompasses nearly 30 percent of New Mexico’s land mass.

Laura Bonar, the chief program and policy officer for the nonprofit Animal Protection of New Mexico, said in a news release, “The Commission’s vote to stop cruel recreational cougar trapping was the right decision. 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.”

Commission Chairwoman Joanna Prukop said the new rules reflect changing safety standards.

“We’re always criticized for not going far enough, but modern-day trapping is not like Jeremiah Johnson-day trapping,” She said, referring to a 1972 film starring Robert Redford. “The traps have improved; the regulations for how they’re set and how often they’re checked have improved.”

Commissioners next will vote Jan. 17 in Las Cruces on whether to amend another trapping rule, one that addresses animals harvested for their fur.

Recommendations for the fur bearer trapping rule changes stop far short of proposed legislation called Roxy’s Law that failed in the 2019 legislative session. The bill was named after a dog that was fatally strangled in an illegal snare in Santa Fe County. The bill would have banned snares, traps and poison on public land, with a few exceptions.

In September, California became the first state to ban commercial fur trapping. Colorado and Arizona banned using traps and snares on public lands; Colorado goes a step further, prohibiting private landowners from using snares, traps or poison.

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(10) comments

Laddie Mills

The new hunter-friendly “Game” Commission is trying to defend the dangerous, barbaric, and senseless trapping on public lands in spite of overwhelming public opposition.

A few “hard lobbying” hunters, who fear that a trapping ban will lead to a hunting ban, and ranchers, who like trapping for their never- ending wars on predators, have managed to knock the commission off course.

Warnings to “WATCH OUT FOR TRAPS,”and “KEEP YOUR KIDS AND PETS ON LEASH“ is a horrible look for a state hoping to promote outdoor recreation and tourism. Most visitors enjoy small critters and birds: they not looking for memories of mangled critters in traps.

Ray Powell

As a veterinarian, I have treated companion animals and wildlife who have had the misfortune of being caught in leg-hold and snare traps. They can do enormous damage and are completely non-selective in the animal trapped. New Mexico needs to ban all traps, snares, and chemical toxicants on public lands in New Mexico. Individuals have every right to protect their animals from rogue predators but this non-selective approach is not the way.

"Wildlife advocates lauded the new rules, but said the State Game Commission needs to go further by banning all traps and snares on all public land, which encompasses nearly 30 percent of New Mexico’s land mass."

Carolyn DM

Thank you for your professional, moral input, once again!!


As you stated, 'Individuals have every right to protect their animals from rogue predators' and in further quoting Mr. Richard Reinders stating 'WE' are the top of the chain of predators' I lend to you further support in banning all traps and snares on all public lands, from planet Earth's number one distructive invasive species....

Gary Cascio

Thank you to the New Mexico State Game Commission for applying reason, logic and compassion to your approach in dealing with New Mexico's wildlife.

Richard Reinders

Get ready for cougars dragging down mountain bikers and joggers like they do in California. Part of hunting cougars is reminding the species that we are the top of the chain and the predator the prey. Stop hunting cougars and they will become the predator top of the chain and humans along with their dogs become the prey. It is called the laws of nature, and you change those laws by committee . And coyotes are part of that system and in Santa Fe they are already bold enough to go after peoples dogs while they are being walked by their owner. Again don't shoot the messenger just facts.

David Romero

BS. Cougars have a right to be here just the same as you. How many cougar attacks in NM in the past 25 years?


Yep, just the facts, according to who? Looking at the state of the world, environment and other, it is not to diffacult to see how us top predators of the food chain are easily the number one invasive species of planet Earth, and the kettle continues to whine calling the pot black. We can do better.

Carolyn DM

LOL!! I'd think if cougars are attacking humans anywhere, they are higher on the food chain than the other way around. I have yet to hear of anyone hunting cougars for food. It seems to be just for ignorant, little men wanting to feel bigger by the most cruel means possible, just like the coyote hunting contests that were thankfully banned. Any trap cannot tell the difference between a dog and a cougar, or any other animal for that matter. They all need to be banned!! What they've just done is only a drop in the bucket.

Carolyn Cerf

‘...reminding the species...’ suggests you are granting an awareness to cougars that they don’t have. Will the cougars get too big for their britches?

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