The trapper accused of killing Roxy, a Northern New Mexico cattle dog who was strangled to death in a snare near Santa Cruz Lake, recently was found not guilty. The verdict was immensely disappointing. It feels like justice slipped through the cracks, alongside the case evidence that was lost.

But the way the trial and verdict has been framed is a disservice to the effort to ban cruel traps, snares and poisons across New Mexico’s public lands.

Several media outlets described Roxy’s tragic death as the impetus for passage of the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act, which came to be called “Roxy’s Law.” It is true that Roxy became emblematic of the indiscriminate killing and danger that traps pose on public lands. However, the effort to ban traps from New Mexico public lands had been in the making for years before Roxy was killed.

Chris Smith is the Southwest Wildlife Advocate for WildEarth Guardians.

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