Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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“Jester”, killed in an illegally set #330 Conibear, Swift Creek, Afton, WY, February 9, 2024

ALERT!
BE AWARE THAT TRAPS ARE OUT THERE ON WYOMING LANDSCAPES. WHEREVER YOU SEE WILDLIFE, THERE COULD BE TRAPS OR LETHAL SNARES AND CONIBEARS.

DEADLY, BRUTAL, AND ILLEGAL TRAPPING INCIDENT.

On Thursday, 2/9/24, “Jester”, a beloved English Bull Terrier was caught in a deadly #330 Conibear body-crushing trap. Jester’s owner, Becky Barber, struggled to release the Conibear but could not do so. Jester died in front of her. Our hearts go out to Becky and her family. It’s devastating to lose a beloved best friend, and to watch such a tragic, brutal incident is beyond imaginable!

The incident was located on Swift Creek in Afton, WY. Becky and her dogs were walking when the dogs went over a snow bank right off the road. She waited for Jester to return. She found him; his gums were still pink, but she couldn’t release the illegal trap. She sat and watched his gums turn white. Jester did not survive.

The trapper was issued a citation by WGFD, with a possible investigation. We will share more information when it is available to the public.

This tragic incident should never have happened. WU and the public have requested trap setbacks off public trails and roads, mandatory trapper education, trap-free areas, and 24-hour trap checks. Still, state and federal wildlife management have resisted, supporting less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the people in Wyoming who decide to trap anywhere it is also legal to walk a dog. Wildlife have no place to escape these steel devices littered across our landscapes.

Trappers are not required to attend a mandatory education course. For furbearers (beavers, bobcats, badgers, mink, muskrats, martins, and weasels), anyone can purchase one license and kill in unlimited numbers during winter. A trapper does not need a license for predatory animals (foxes, coyotes, and wolves in areas of the state, and more) and can trap, snare, shoot, or kill in almost any manner on any day of the year. Reporting of most trapped target or non-target animals is voluntary. Thousands of animals are killed that we will never know about.

No one is held accountable if your pet gets caught in a legal trap. Trappers can legally kill your pet!

Wyoming is rated as one of the worst in the country for its lack of trapping regulations. Many states are stepping up to progressive modern-day humane wildlife management, using alternative methods to prevent and reduce conflict.

Until we can get these deadly steel devices off our trails and create trap-free zones throughout the state, please know what to do before heading out into the field.

If you feel outraged, please get in touch with these wildlife management decision-makers. Let them know that it is legal to kill a pet or any other non-target animal if the trap is legal. The trap must then be returned to the owner to kill again. No one is held accountable for the injury or death of the pet. If the trap is illegal, there may be a warning or citation, but penalties are lax.
Please request that Wyoming, rated as one of the worst states for archaic trapping regulations, step up to the responsibility of trapping reform. This beloved pet, or any other non-target animal, did not deserve to get trapped and brutally killed like this.
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Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Director: Brian Nesvik
Brian.Nesvik@wyo.gov
307-631-1845

Wyoming Game and Fish Chief Warden
Rick King
Richard.King@wyo.gov
307-777-4581

Wyoming Game & Fish Department Jackson Regional Office
Supervisor: Brad Hovinga
307-733-2321
Brad.Hovinga@wyo.gov

Governor Mark Gordon
governor@wyo.gov
307-777-7434

Your Legislators
Wyoleg.gov/legislators

Travel, Recreation, Wildlife &Cultural Resources Committee (TRW)
Wyoleg.gov/Committees/2024/J06

Wyoming Game and Fish Commission
President: Ralph.Brokaw@wyo.gov
Vice President: Richard.Ladwig@wyo.gov
Mark.Jolovich@wyo.gov
Kenneth.Roberts@wyo.gov
Ashlee.Lundvall@wyo.gov
John.Masterson@wyoboards.gov
Rusty.Bell@wyoboards.gov

Wyoming Department of Agriculture
Director: Doug Miyamoto
doug.miyamoto@wyo.gov
307-777-6569

Wyoming Director of Wildlife Services
Jared Zierenberg
jared.r.zierenberg@aphis.usda.gov
307-261-5336

Please help us keep track of nontarget trapping by reporting incidents on our website, and stay safe while recreating on public lands by knowing how to release a pet from a trap or snare safely. Always carry a snare cutter tool!

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Becky Barber is sharing her story, and wants wildlife management decision-makers to take action.

To Whom It May Concern;

I have previously reached out to most of you concerning the tragic, horrific, uncalled for death of my beautiful companion, Jester. An incident that will haunt me for life.

He was killed on February 8, 2024 in Swift Creek Canyon just feet off of the main road, over the snowbank. He was killed in a Conibear 330. As we neared the end of our walk ready to turn around and head back to the car Jester and Kaia went over the snowbank. They did this often. Chasing a squirrel or smelling a carcass. I called for them. Kaia came running. I figured I’ll finish the few steps left then grab Jester, positive he was on something dead like he was up Dry Creek a few days before. When he wouldn’t come I followed Kaia up over the snowbank and saw his body laying in the snow. I hollered, praying it was a leg trap. As this 5’3″, 120 pound dog mom struggled to free him, I literally watched the blood drain from his gums and lips. He did not die instantly. He suffocated. Thank God I had cell service, not that it saved Jester, and was able to call my husband and 911 to get a hold of James Hobbs, our local game warden. I undid the wire holding the trap in place. Struggling I packed my baby boy, trap still around neck up over the snowbank and laid him on the road. I then attached his leash and started dragging him down the road to meet up with my husband. It took both of us all we had to release that god forsaken trap and free my Jester’s once vibrant, full of life, now lifeless body. These are images that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I have missed 2 days of work. My husband missed one day as to not leave me alone, for you see Jester was not just a dog. We did everything together. He traveled all over Wyoming with me supporting my grandson in the High School Rodeo program as a bull rider. In seven years we were not apart very often. He was my co-pilot. My soul mate. My puppy, Kaia, is at a total loss. She hardly leaves my side. We are having to go get family members dogs to play with her. She cries. She is on sedatives. Neither of us have hardly slept since the senseless loss of our Jester. He was a young 8 years old. I am mentally and emotionally struggling with what I had to see and go through and not being able to save Jester. I cried out his name. I kept telling him I was trying. That I was sorry. That I hadn’t abandond him. My dreams are haunted. I’ve hardly eaten in days. He was a young 8 years old.

I can tell you right now Jester’s death will not be in vain. I, nor my support group, is going anywhere until there is change.

My requests are minimal but will save countless pet lives. When I see all the senseless pet lives lost on Wyoming Untrapped, and this isn’t even a complete list, I am utterly sickened. We have rights too. Are our fur babies lives worth nothing? Are our broken hearts just a mere price to pay so some careless trapper can have a fur? I am gutted. I am angry. Hate boils in me. However, I am trying to use Jester’s death for a better good.

I beg you to change regulations that traps cannot be set in such public areas. These trappers can use snow shoes, snowmobiles, skis or other means to have to setback traps at least 200 yards from public roads, paths, public recreation areas or any other places occupied by the public and pets. Also, at the beginning of every canyon entrance there should be signage that there are traps in place. I also feel that the general areas with traps should be flagged, even if setbacks are in place, should anyone go off trail to snowshoe etc. alone or with a pet. The trap that killed my Jester could have easily gotten a child that might have popped up over that snow bank following the careless steps of a careless trapper. I personally think this trapper should lose his rights for several years. Why is it illegal to trap the wrong wildlife but not a loving pet?

Is this what it will take for you to become responsible, to care, to give a damn about something other than money that these trapping licenses bring in? It is illegal to trap something other than the permitted animal, unless it’s a pet. A person can’t shoot across a road to kill something but a trap can be set right by a road, or in a road or trail for that matter. I know someone who found a set trap in the middle of a trail.

I never even knew there were traps in our canyons until a few years ago when a family was walking their dog in Dry Creek and came around a corner to see their family pet hanging in a snare. Several pet owners using these same canyons had no idea either until I posted about my loving Jester. I have been very careful since then to keep my pets out of traps. However, I never dreamed there would be a scented trap right off of a main road. NO signs. NO warning.

How is it this is even a possibility? After posting on Facebook I was amazed to find how many people had no idea there were traps. Many now will not be walking their dogs up these PUBLIC canyons. I walked my Jester almost daily for the last 7 years in rain, snow, and in freezing temperatures. He was my driving force to stay active. As an English Bull Terrier his energy was extremely high. His love and loyalty knew no bounds. Seven months ago I got Jester an English Bull Terrier puppy to play with and for company. Since this awful tragedy my sweet baby Kaia has had to be on sedatives. I myself have had little sleep.

I will continue to email, attend meetings and whatever else I must do for such simple change. You will never forget Jester’s name. This is Jester’s legacy. His death will not be in vain.

Sincerely,
Becky Barber

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Watch our full-length webinar workshop:
bit.ly/WyomingUntrapped-webinar-workshop
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Download our Pet Trap Safety Brochure to your smartphone for access in the field:
wyominguntrapped.org/trapping-brochures/
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Watch our 11-minute video: “How to Release Your Pet From a Trap”
wyominguntrapped.org/portfolio-item/how-to-release-your-pet-from-a-trap/
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Be Snare Aware! Learn all about these lethal snares:
https://wyominguntrapped.org/snare-aware/
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Carry tools with you if needed to help release your pet. We have assembled UNtrapped Packs to make it easier for you. At a minimum, carry an aircraft cable cutter if your pet is caught in a snare. These tools could save your pet’s life. You can find our UNtrap Pack and cable/snare cutters on our website.
wyominguntrapped.org/programs/untrap-packs/

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Have you experienced a negative trapping incident involving you, your pet, your family, or another living thing?

Please share your story on our trapping incident form so that we can help you in whatever way we can and bring the realities of trapping to a broader public. Your personal information will be respected, and you may submit it anonymously.
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Provide as much as possible of the following information so that your report will be as effective as possible. Include species of animal, type of trapping device, name of the dog (if applicable), any injuries incurred by animals or humans involved, medical expenses, and as much additional detail as possible. Also, photos are very helpful but not required. We encourage you to include multiple photos and videos of the trap/snare, trap set area, bait, wild animal, dog, injury, and a picture of your dog without the trap to add a face to your story.
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Stay safe, everyone!

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