Commonly known as Roxy’s Law, Senate Bill 32 has many concerned over proponents’ failure to acknowledge its impact on rural New Mexicans.
“They are sentencing us to poverty,” said Wayne Derrick, a Lea County resident who has trapped in New Mexico for 58 years. Derrick also owns and operates a lure business where he sells a variety of attractants to help others in their trapping endeavors. “If SB 32 passes, not only will we lose our business, but I will no longer be able to trap and sell furs. My wife and I will be forced to survive off of $950 a month from Social Security.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, 18.2 percent of New Mexicans were classified as impoverished. Even more alarming, a 2019 report released by New Mexico Voices for Children found that 26 percent of the state’s children remained at or below the federal poverty line, placing New Mexico 49th nationally in child poverty.
In a state with already concerning rates of poverty and during a time in which COVID-19 has created even more economic barriers, why is the Legislature pushing a bill that will inevitably cause many like Derrick to lose their livelihoods?
SB 32 is another example of the growing rural-urban divide occurring throughout New Mexico, where a Legislature dominated by urban and suburban elected officials is making decisions that disproportionately impact rural communities.
“A lot of country kids don’t have many other ways to make money outside of trapping. Ranchers aren’t going to be able to protect their sheep and calves. I just talked to a guy who lost 20 out of 60 calves to coyotes this year already. That’s his entire profit margin, and it’s only going to get worse,” Derrick said.
Despite being falsely advertised as in the best interest of people, pets and wildlife, the ramifications of SB 32 are far and wide. Not only will sustainable, science-based wildlife management take a back seat on the legislative agenda, many will lose their livelihood and a key component of their shared outdoor heritage.
Thinking about the impact that the New Mexico Legislature’s decision will have on his day-to-day life, Derrick summarized this reality. “The folks at the Roundhouse always talk about reducing the poverty rate, increased tolerance of alternative lifestyles, and here they are condemning us because of our chosen path in life. It’s just not right.”