Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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Mountain Lion Indiscriminately Trapped in Leghold, Ten Sleep Canyon


Salt Lick Trail, Ten Sleep Canyon


What would you do while hiking and finding this site of total destruction, like an exploded bomb? You would probably be frightened and horrified, just like this older female mountain lion fighting to escape a leghold trap set for a bobcat.

WU received a message about a trapping incident in the Ten Sleep canyon where there are purportedly mountain lions. An off-trail hike led to this devastated Juniper tree.
“The bark all around the base of it was rubbed raw and several branches were broken off. Long strings of the bark were hanging everywhere. The ground was disturbed to the point of being pulverized to a powder. Something large went round and round the tree. Certainly, a trapped animal.” Mountain lion tracks were spotted heading in that direction.

An experienced trapper friend we contacted stated:

“Wolves, coyotes and bobcats can really tear up areas and vegetation too depending on how they are caught, how much room they have to move around and how they are anchored. Sometimes the trap chain, snare cable and such help tear up the landscape too. However, if I were to guess, I sure would not disagree that a mountain lion was caught at this site. It looks like some serious damage and appears that a trap or snare would likely have been set in this type of location for cats.”

Trapping mountain lions in Wyoming is illegal. But unfortunately for wildlife, indiscriminate trapping is legal if certain animals are reported to WGFD. Mountain lions caught indiscriminately are not unusual in Wyoming. Two other incidents were recently reported…one cougar survived. Another cougar dragging a snare around its neck was killed when the swivel was caught by rocks.

UPDATE 1.23.18:

The trapper found the female mountain lion in the leghold set for bobcat, and as required, reported to WGFD. The cougar was tranquilized, examined, treated, eartagged and released. With broken toes, we don’t know how she will fare in the wild, but hope she will survive with the freedom to roam.

Thanks to Bart Kroger, biologist for G&F, for the quick response and release.
Thanks to our caller for reporting this incident to initiate the search for answers.

No animal should be treated in a manner that elicits this type of horrendous reaction.
This is the tragic face of trapping in Wyoming!


She was gorgeous! I felt so privileged to see her so closely. Actually, the conditions couldn’t have been better. She was outside our cabin on the deck and we were safely inside. It was mid-day in mid January.  She was a mountain lion.

“She is not huge” I whispered. “I think that she must be about 2 years old.”  She slowly and very cautiously strolled about while I ogled and my husband videotaped her on his cell phone. Her face was beautiful with her cat nose and whiskers. I saw her meow twice but couldn’t hear it inside. Her tail was so long and fat! I automatically visually surrounded her with white light. This is a habit that I have developed to try to protect wild animals. I blessed her.

She continued to thrill us before crossing the creek next to our house, sitting and posing for a bit and then disappearing. “We should have shot a gun near her to scare her” I said. “She is going to get into trouble and get herself killed.”

Several weeks went by. One day I went hiking on a public recreational trail across from our cabin. Except on this day I got off the trail and went exploring. I came upon a disturbing site. A juniper tree had been ravaged by something. The bark was hanging off in strings, the lower branches were broken off and the ground underneath was pulverized into dust. Something large had been trapped here – a mountain lion?  I was horrified.  What a terrible way to go.

I reported my finding to the local game warden. Yes, he knew about it. A mountain lion had indeed been caught in a trap off that trail. The trapper had reported it and the U.S. Wildlife Biologist had sedated it and released it. It had broken toes. It was judged to be about 2 years old and was a female.

I was ecstatic. “Our” lion was alive. And now she was truly blessed- with life, caution, and wisdom. May she have a long life.  I named her Blest.


Photos: Anonymous.


  • Line Ringgaard

    -Emerging trends in national wildlife management; Should we value and protect wildlife as vital contributors to the health of our public landscapes, and for the intrinsic character and worth of all furbearing animals? Should we value the significant impact of wildlife watching on tourism – Wyoming’s 2nd largest industry? Is Wyoming’s wildlife management not keeping pace with our modern society’s views?

    -Wildlife management should better represent the values of all citizens; Our wildlife is a public treasure owned equally by all citizens and taxpayers. Therefore, it is not just that a few people are allowed to indiscriminately trap and kill this wildlife. Trapping and snaring greatly reduces the number of animals and thus the number of wildlife sightings for the public – depriving them of much pleasure.

    -Unacceptable deaths and severe injuries to non-target species; even animals released alive may later die from their injuries; We don’t know how many non-target animals are trapped/snared, injured or killed in traps each year. Should all of the ~thousands of non-target animals be required reporting by trappers?

    -Personal experience with a companion animal caught in a trap; Should warning signs be required in areas where there are traps and snares to increase public safety? Traps are legal on all public trails where dogs can be walked. Should there be 300 ft setbacks off trails, or trap-free areas where anyone can have a reasonable expectation of safety on our public lands? Should trappers be accountable for injuries or death to your pet?

    -The absence of sportsmanship, fair chase, and compassion in trapping; Every animal in Wyoming, including endangered species, is a possible victim of traps and snares. Is it fair chase not to know your target? Or to sit at home on a couch and wait for a catch?

    -Yhe pure cruelty of trapping causing injuries, exposure, dehydration and mental stress, and often immense suffering; Should all trap-check time requirements be reduced to 24 hour trap checks, or should traps be eliminated from our landscapes? Jeremy Bentham famously asked, “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ Nor, ‘Can they talk?’ But, “can they suffer?’”

    -How our public lands should remain safe havens for all; All people, pets and wildlife should have a reasonable expectation for safety on our public lands, which means trap-free areas for all.

    -How the overall management of trapping is rarely cost-effective; A furbearer trapping license costs $45 for all you can catch. How can that be cost-effective?

    -How trapping, which is not based on a science foundation, does little or nothing for effectively managing any species population; We don’t have a population count on our state furbearers, but we allow unlimited quotas. Should we place quotas on all furbearer trapping? Where is the science?

    -How trapping has long ago lost its charm as a Wyoming tradition, let alone an American one; A growing debate about the legitimacy of trapping shows that a shift is coming. Trapping for fun, trophies, fur and feeding one’s ego as a tradition is no longer acceptable by a growing modern population.

    -How trapping rarely serves any citizen other than the one who owns the trap; Is it time to create a statewide Trapping Advisory Committee to lend a citizen’s perspective to WGFD in reviewing the science and management of trapping, and predicting and anticipating public sentiment?

  • M Leybra

    What’s left to say, medieval steel torture devices still used on non-human animals in today’s world while bearing witness to the gratuitous suffering inflicted on them? Some things never change, the human animal remains the most merciless creature on earth. Perhaps we still resent the beauty & perfection of the ‘wild’ animal, born mentally & physically perfect, that we lack & can never attain so is just something easy to destroy. Or perhaps it’s just greed for the dollars that state F & G agencies manage to still add to their revenue from selling trapping licenses. Perhaps that’s all it comes down to, the very state environmental agencies who are supposed to protect the ecosystems that depend on the diversity of a healthy, functioning wild ‘freelife’ population of animals, but cant let go of ‘viewing’ wildlife as nothing more than a state resource, for their blood. The biggest hoax is to still keep calling this sound ‘wildlife management’ in an age of worldwide diminishing wildlife diversity.

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