Game and Fish will talk about trapping reform
JACKSON, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in partnership with the University of Wyoming Extension Office, is holding a set of collaborative meetings focused on trapping. The public is invited to attend one of the five meetings in-person or one of the final two meetings virtually.
At each meeting, the public will be presented with, and able to discuss and provide input on, recommendations based on stakeholder contacts and comments.
Recently, the Game and Fish formed an internal working group that gathered input from nearly 300 stakeholders around the state related to potential trapping statute and regulation changes. The group contacted over 140 members of the public with diverse interests related to trapping to gain a better understanding of the public’s desires for change. The group reviewed public comments regarding trapping statutes and regulations and the history of Wyoming State Statutes and regulation changes pertaining to trapping.
“We are looking forward to the WGFD collaborative public meeting process over the next two weeks,” said Wyoming Untrapped founder Lisa Robertson. “We submitted a petition in January to the WGF Commission requesting trapping reform this year. We were heard. We have been joined by additional trapping reform advocacy groups and ambassadors statewide.”
In reviewing this information, several common themes emerged and were identified for further development through the public collaborative process. Common themes include recommending mandatory trapper education, developing trapping awareness education for public land users, reducing the check period for snares, looking into setbacks from trails and developed areas where traps/snares can be set and more.
“We face a new reality in Wyoming, that our public lands should give every user a reasonable expectation of safety on our landscapes, not just for one user group,” Robertson said. “Wildlife have suffered greatly from archaic trapping regulations. We are recommending 24-hour trap-checks, required reporting of non-target animals (including pets), harvest quotas on all furbearing animals, designated trap free areas, and a review of trapping regulations every two years as we do with hunting and fishing.”
Jason Hunter, Lander Region wildlife supervisor and lead of the internal working group, said, “We have had the opportunity to visit with a variety of people across the state individually to this point, and these meetings now are the chance for even more stakeholders to come together and hear from each other while providing input on any potential statute or regulation changes and educational opportunities related to trapping.”
Game and Fish wildlife division chief Rick King added, “The working group will use the information provided during these meetings to develop regulatory recommendations for the Game and Fish Commission to consider as well as identify potential statute changes to discuss with the Wyoming Legislature.”
Meetings begin at 6 p.m. and dates and locations are as follows:
Feedback so far has included:
- Support for mandatory trapper education, concerns about trapping practices and trapper ethics
- Support for education/training about trapping for recreationalists and dog owners (concerns about safety and dogs off leash or not under control)
- Support for trapping setbacks
- Support for signage (not on individual traps) about trapping potentially occurring in areas
- Concerns for non-target captures and support for reporting all non-target catches
- Concerns and discussions about snare check period
- Concerns about the lack of information collected related to furbearer harvest and lack of harvest quotas
- Support for mandatory Conservation Stamp requirements for trappers
- Support for trap type restrictions and/or trap free area
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission may consider the following:
- The Department will develop recommendations for the Wyoming State Legislature requiring mandatory trapper education.
- The current Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies approved online course may be sufficient until a Wyoming specific course could be developed or in person classes could be offered.
- Develop consistent trapping education topics/themes relevant to those using public lands (hiking, walking dogs, bird watching, riding bikes, trail running, etc.)
- Develop a page on the Department’s website containing all trapping specific information
- Develop informational signs for use on Commission owned lands (WHMAs/WMAs) containing basic trapping information and a link (QR code) for more information in those areas with cell reception.
- Work with public land management agencies to promote similar signage at trailheads/recreation areas.
- Work with partners and stakeholder groups to provide hand tools at major trailheads or parking areas (similar to loaner lifejacket program) that can be used to remove a pet from a trap or snare. Sell tools through the Department’s Alternative Enterprises/website/Regional Offices.
- Host/Cohost/promote how to release your pet workshops and other non-trapper-based trapping education training around the state.
- Update/redesign the trapping brochure to provide more information (species ID, education opportunities, messages, etc.)
- Campground: defined as any campground on public land designated by an administrative agency.
- Trailhead: defined as any trailhead on public land designated by an administrative agency.
- Recreation site: defined as any site with construction improvements made for recreation as designated by an administrative agency including, but not limited to, picnic areas, boat launches, fishing access areas, etc.
- Develop a database and app to track voluntary reporting of non-target species trapped (including dogs). The Department will provide those recommendations to the Wyoming State Legislature to require reporting of all non-target species trapped.
- The Department will provide recommendations to the Wyoming State Legislature to reduce the check period requirement for snares (may need to add exemption to regulation for predator control work, but language is already included in the statute).
- Form a Department Furbearer Working Group to keep up to date with furbearer management practices, population trends and evaluate the need for harvest quotas, season date/species closure modifications, etc.
- The Department will provide recommendations to the Wyoming State Legislature to require Conservation Stamps for trappers and anyone using Commission owned or administered properties (antler hunters, dog walkers, bird watchers, other recreators, etc.).
- Look into trap and snare restrictions (RAM power snare, spring-loaded snares, etc.) and Commission owned or administered land closures during heavy use periods (pheasant release areas, etc.).