- Associated Press - Thursday, March 18, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A bill that prohibits the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across New Mexico with limited exceptions won approval by the Legislature on Thursday, with a 35-34 vote of the state House.

The vote reflects a shift in attitudes toward animal suffering and new unease with use of steel foot traps and wire snares that many ranchers still swear by.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for consideration.

Bill co-sponsor Matthew McQueen of Galisteo says household pets are walking into traps increasingly amid efforts to promote outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands.

“There are very few limitations on where a trapper can set a trap,” McQueen said. “There are very few consequences for violating the few limitations.”

Rural residents and wildlife conservation officers say trapping remains an important tool for managing wildlife and protecting livestock. They unsuccessfully urged lawmakers to allow more time for new trapping rules, adopted in 2020, to work before imposing a sweeping ban.

The new bill allows continued use of traps on public lands for purposes of scientific research, ecosystem management and rodent control. It also exempts Native American religious observances that may involve harvesting wildlife.

The bill does not affect activity on private property or apply to Native American lands.

Also Thursday, the Legislature hit a stalemate over an initiative to rein in interest rates on small, short-term loans.

Advocates for new limits on the storefront loan industry say current law allows annual interest rates of up to 175% that exploit the poor and can send borrowers into a spiral of debt.

The state Senate rejected amendments from the House to a bill that initially capped interest rates at 36% annually.

House-approved revisions would allow a maximum annual percentage rate of 99% for loans of $1,100 or less. The House-endorsed bill also allows for fees of $200 or 10% of loan principal.

The House has the opportunity to relent and restore the initial terms of the bill. If not, a conference committee would meet to negotiate a possible compromise, with three legislators from each chamber.

Opponents of reform say it would cut off credit options for low-income residents and that lenders would be driven out of business by the 36% cap.

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