Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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Dog Trapped on Public Road

Wyoming Untrapped is dedicated to reform of these antiquated trapping regulations.

Jackson Hole News and Guide, 3/12/14

In December I spent a month exploring Anazasi ruins around Bluff, Utah. One morning I drove along an excellent dirt access road indicated in my guide book toward a popular hiking trail. Recent snows created muddy conditions, so I decided to walk the remaining few miles to the trailhead. I let my dog out, and we both walked on the road itself. My dog was about 15 feet ahead of me when he began yelping in pain. I rushed to his side and saw his foot was caught in a leghold trap meant for coyotes. The trap had been hidden under the dirt directly on the public road, ‘baited’ only with dog scat and scent — in other words, there was no indication to a human that a trap was there. Luckily, I was able to free my dog quickly, and he had no injuries.

Although my experience took place in Utah, I live in Wyoming and know many people whose dogs have been caught in traps here. People recreating with children and dogs need to know that trapping is legal everywhere except in national parks. Coyotes can be trapped year round. Wolves can be trapped in 85 percent of Wyoming year round. Other wildlife such as bobcats have a long season in the winter months. It’s only a matter of time, as recreational use increases, before a child is trapped.

Releasing a leghold trap is not intuitive. One has to practice before an incident occurs. Snares require a hiker to carry a good pair of wire cutters so your dog won’t choke to death. If you come across a conibear trap, then kiss your dog goodbye because you’ll never release him in time as it takes only seconds for the animal to die.

Trapping is not only cruel and antiquated, but trappers are selling our wildlife overseas to China and Russia for coats. As fur prices escalate, more people are trapping, many of them inexperienced and unethical. Last year, trappers placed bobcat sets around the perimeter of Joshua Tree National Park in California, hoping for the $750 that a pelt can bring, robbing the American public visiting that park of the pleasure of seeing our native wildlife. Old, outdated laws and attitudes favor the trapper who pays a miniscule fee for his license. Nonconsumptive users of recreational lands are not only at risk but so is the tranquility of their outdoor experience.

Leslie Patten Cody

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