Trapping Cougars

Here’s a weird fact: New Mexico is the only state that allows the recreational trapping and snaring of cougars. I have no idea why anyone would want to trap and snare a cougar for fun, but if that sounds like a good time to you in America, you’ll have to travel to New Mexico.

I know what you’re thinking: What happens if your cougar trap snares a wolf instead? What fun is that?

This may be a hazard at a modern-day singles bar, but it might also involve wildlife (the animal kind) in New Mexico. I know this, of course, because it’s come up in litigation. The Humane Society of the United States and Animal Protection of New Mexico have sued to stop inadvertent wolf-snaring in cougar traps.

This sounded strangely specific to me. After all, there are lots of things that could wander into a cougar trap: large kitty cats, marmots, Rover. Heck, I could easily walk into one, since I have no idea what a recreational cougar trap looks like. (Imagine the disappointment of finding me in your cougar trap.)

But according to a federal judge’s ruling last week: “Plaintiffs allege the adoption of the Cougar Rule threatens Mexican wolves and that it will cause cougar trappers to trap and snare Mexican wolves without due care because it is impossible to modify cougar traps to avoid harming wolves.”

The government’s anti-immigration hysteria has really gotten out of hand.

The Mexican gray wolf, it turns out, is an endangered species, but none of the wolves, so far at least, have been caught in cougar traps — hence a 38-page federal court ruling in favor of the New Mexico State Game Commission. I recommend reading it if you’re fascinated by stuff like this: “No foot-hold trap with an outside spread larger than 7 inches if laminated above the jaw surfaces or tooth-jawed traps, shall be used in making a land set. All foot-hold traps with an inside jaw spread equal to or greater than 5.5 inches shall be offset unless they have padded jaws.”

Nobody said trapping a cougar for fun was easy.

Sports news. World Cup fans will be happy to know that at least some Americans consider their sport vitally important. (I’m assuming here that I have an international audience for this column.)

A high school sophomore in Wisconsin considered soccer so vital that she filed a federal lawsuit against her high school and the local school district after she was suspended for four games.

Yes, a federal lawsuit through her parents. I’m guessing at least one of them must be a lawyer. The student got suspended for hosting a party to which other students brought alcohol and drank it.

We now have a 20-page federal court ruling on this controversy in favor of the defendants. I don’t know, but I’m assuming this came after the soccer season was over.

One wonders what the plaintiff’s junior soccer season is going to be like.

Quick question. Does size matter? Get your mind out of the gutter — I’m talking about law firm size.

And shouldn’t performance quality matter more? Get your mind out of the gutter — I’m talking about legal work results.

I bring this up because I was reading a federal court ruling on attorney fees, as I’m wont to do, and ran across this sentence: “Accordingly, based on the community rates from this district and the fact that Pillsbury is an American Lawyer Top 100 law firm with over 600 attorneys in twenty-one offices, the Court finds Ms. Herrera, Ms. Bjurstrom, and Mr. Hahn’s hourly rates reasonable.”

So if they’d been with a three-person firm in one state that American Lawyer never heard of and did exactly the same work, they’d have to work for minimum wage?

The lawyers in this particular case, however, got dinged for recording work in 15-minute increments instead of 10-minute increments. For some reason, there was no discussion of how much time was added for stopping to record work six times an hour instead of four.

And what happens if you do work 15 minutes? Do the extra five minutes not count or do you count it as another 10? There are so many fascinating issues to deal with.

I’d have a whole lot less to read if fees could be standardized.

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