New Mexico bill aims to discourage trafficking of wildlife parts


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators in New Mexico are considering criminal penalties including jail time and civil fines for people who knowingly buy or sell endangered wildlife parts and products.

A Senate committee on Thursday endorsed the bill from Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque on a 6-3 party-line vote with Republicans in opposition. Stewart said 10 other states have adopted their own enforcement provisions on wildlife trafficking to support federal and international restrictions.

The New Mexico ban on wildlife trafficking would be linked to surviving species that are threatened with extinction such as elephants, lions, rhinoceros and others listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

New Mexico district courts would be able to enforce fines of up to $25,000 per object, with potentially higher fines for highly valuable animal products. Local enforcement would involve the State Parks Division and the Department of Game and Fish.

Stewart’s bill includes exemptions for some antiques that are at least a century old, certain musical instruments and objects that are lawfully possessed by enrolled members of a federally recognized Native American tribe or nation.

New Mexico conservation officers already can help U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents under a cooperative law enforcement agreement. But criminal charges only are brought forward by the federal agents in cooperation with the U.S Attorney’s Office,

The New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts says criminal convictions could result in sentences of up to a year in jail.

Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions and other animals are the targets of poachers who sell carcasses and body parts for up to tens of thousands of dollars apie