The New Mexico State Game Commission met in Roswell on Thursday, November 21, 2019 to vote on the state's proposed changes for the Bear and Cougar Rules.
Wildlife advocates rejoiced today as the commission voted to ban the heinous sport trapping of cougars. The current revision also limited how many cougars a hunter could kill. Hunters will no longer be permitted to obtain additional tags to kill more than two cougars.
The Mountain Lion Foundation has been following these developments for months and submitted comments in September 2019. We urged the New Mexico State Game Commission to adopt the rule to end the barbaric practice of trapping the state's cougars. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) received a total of 277 comments from the public during the open comment period.
"We are thankful that the New Mexico State Game Commission voted to end the trapping of cougars," stated Denise Peterson, Visibility Specialist with the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Thank you to all of our members who took the time to write and submit letters urging the Commission to protect one of New Mexico’s iconic wild cats.
In the last three hunting seasons, a total of 37 mountain lions were trapped and killed by trophy hunters. The infrequency and low participation of this cruel method of take shows that New Mexicans do not support this program. In fact, according to Trap Free New Mexico, "polling shows that nearly 70% of New Mexico voters oppose the use of traps altogether."
Mountain lions caught in traps suffer tremendously from fear, pain, psychological stress,
starvation, dehydration, or predation for extended periods of time. Whether they live or die,
their experience is inhumane, reflecting the human capacity for cruelty.
"Halting the use of traps and foot snares for the sport harvest of cougars on private and state trust lands in New Mexico is a step in the right direction," stated Korinna Domingo, Conservation Specialist with the Mountain Lion Foundation. "These big cats face a plethora of challenges: from heavy hunting pressure to collisions with vehicles and poisons... trapping shouldn't be one of them."
The revised rule will be effective through 2024 when it will once again go under review. It is paramount that New Mexicans continue to advocate on behalf of cougars in their state.
There is still more left to do to save New Mexico’s cougars.
While additional rule modifications restricts hunters from obtaining additional tags, they are still able to kill up to two cougars each. As of 2010, NMDGF estimated there were between 3,123 and 4,269 independent, adult cougars in the state. Current hunting quotas far exceed sustainable thresholds established by mountain lion experts and continue to threaten the health and stability of New Mexico’s cougars.
The Mountain Lion Foundation will continue the work of improving policy in New Mexico to protect the state’s cougars.