Couple’s Dog Gets Caught in Illegal Steel Trap in Johnson County Park
Heading out for a trail run with their dog, Ria, seemed like a great way to kick off 2017.
But Tony and Michelle Bautista’s New Year’s Day dash at Longview Lake Park turned terrifying when their red sheltie mixed-breed shrieked in agony.
“It was one of the worst experiences we ever had,” Michelle Bautista said, recalling how a trap’s steel jaws snapped shut on Ria’s left front paw as she trotted alongside her owners on a long leash. “She was struggling and screaming. She could have lost her foot because it literally cuts off the blood supply.”
Twelve-year-old Ria survived with only minor lacerations, however, because Tony Bautista cut the trap’s jaws with a saw he retrieved from home. But the 20-minute ordeal and a tense but civil encounter the next morning with the Grandview man who’d set the trap left the couple angry and wary of future jaunts at Longview.
“This an absolute hazard,” Michelle Bautista said. “There’s supposed to be no trapping on park property.”
That’s true for all of Jackson County’s parks, and also for other parks systems in the Kansas City area contacted by The Star.
But trapping is allowed by permit on private property in Kansas and Missouri. And it’s permissible, but tightly controlled, on thousands of acres of public lands and waterways.
State agencies consider trapping as a form of recreation and a wildlife management measure to combat the spread of disease and reduce property damage — beavers dam streams and mink sometimes murder chickens in a thrill-kill frenzy.
Rarely do traps put people and pets in danger, state officials say, because the vast majority of trappers follow state laws governing the “harvesting” of animals by snares and steel traps. They generally must be set far back from footpaths.
But cats, dogs and non-target animals such as eagles are sometimes injured or killed in even legally placed traps. That only adds to the concerns of animal welfare activists who would like to outlaw all trapping or place more restrictions on an activity that its defenders claim is a wholesome, enjoyable and responsible way to interact with nature.
“The state of Missouri was started by trappers,” said Missouri wildlife damage biologist Todd Meece. “Lewis and Clark trapped. That’s how the West was settled.”
Trapping wildlife has always been driven by economics. Right now, it’s hard times for both commercial and hobby trappers like Meece (prononced Mace), whose day job at the state Department of Conservation has him instructing Missouri residents on how to remove or control problem wildlife on their property.
In his spare time, he and his kids have enjoyed many days in the woods trying to make a little money on the side catching raccoons and other fur bearers.
“It’s fun to get out,” he said. “You don’t get much money, but it gives the kids something to do besides watch television.”
But because of plunging fur prices worldwide — oversupply and depressed demand in two of the biggest markets, Russia and China — fewer people are setting out traps this winter.
“The fur market in the last three to four years has been steadily going downhill,” Missouri conservation agent Travis Goreham said.
Bobcat pelts that were selling at auction for an average of $120 in 2013 were down to $34 last year and likely won’t bring much more at fur auctions in February. Raccoon prices are so low — a buck or two a pelt, compared with more than $13 four years ago — it isn’t worth the gas it takes to check the traps every day.
But like any industry, this one is cyclical, and surveys show that thousands of trappers in Missouri and Kansas continue to buy licenses every year — even if they don’t use them — in case prices snap back.Read full article: Couple’s Dog Gets Caught in Steel Trap in Johnson County Park