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Public meetings to discuss trapping reform

A dog stands next to a trap discovered adjacent to a road. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is hosting a series of public meetings to discuss potential changes to trapping regulations and statutes.

Public meetings set to discuss trapping reform

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is leading a series of public meetings around the state to listen to the public about trapping.

A Laramie meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Laramie Regional Office, 1212 S. Adams St. The meetings in Laramie and in Lander at 6 p.m. Thursday offer the option of virtual attendance.

During the meeting, attendees will be able to discuss recommendations brought forward by a Game and Fish working group that has been gathering input from stakeholders since last spring. The working group was formed in response to two petitions brought to the Game and Fish Commission by groups interested in reforming the state’s trapping regulations and statutes.

“The Commission didn’t act on those during that meeting, but they wanted to get more information about the history, issues with trapping and things related to trapping,” said Jason Hunter, wildlife supervisor for the Lander Region.

Hunter said the working group put together a list of about 300 people across the state that had an interest of some type in trapping, representing conservation groups, government agencies, dog owners, trappers, public lands groups, veterinarians and others. The working group was able to contact almost half of them to talk about areas of potential change in the regulations and statutes. The group also reviewed public comments regarding trapping rules and reviewed the history of changes.

“After those conversations, we had a few things where we felt like there might be some common agreement, or at least room for more conversation between all the groups,” he said. “That’s how we put this next round of meetings together.”

Among the topics of broad interest was the call for mandatory trapper education.

“That was probably one there was the most agreement on,” Hunter said.

Other areas for potential revision include education for other recreationalists, setbacks from roads and trails, signage about areas with traps, reporting non-target catches, adjusting the snare check period, furbearer harvest reporting, a Conservation Stamp requirement, trap-free areas and trap-type restrictions.

Hunter said the aim of the meetings is to solicit public input about potential revisions, which could lead to future action. Some changes would require action by the Wyoming Legislature, while others could be taken up by the Commission.

“There’s no action that can be taken after these meetings,” he said. “It’s more trying to see if there’s some common ground out there.”

He said trapping regulations were last adjusted in 2019, while the most recent statute changes took place in 2012. Trapping regulations are generally updated every three years.

Lisa Robertson is the founder of Wyoming Untrapped, one of the groups that brought the petition to the Commission. She started the group five years ago in response to pets getting injured by traps, and the group had planned to lead a trap-release workshop in Laramie last spring before events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On its website, wyominguntrapped.org, the group tracks incidents of dogs and non-target wildlife getting caught in traps. The site lists five incidents in southeast Wyoming when dogs were caught in traps, both legal and illegal, since 2015.

“We thought we had reasonable expectations for safety on our public trails,” she said.

She called the existence of the working group and the public meetings “groundbreaking” in their potential to bring about changes.

“We were very, very encouraged that this is happening,” she said.

Anyone wanting to attend a meeting online should register ahead of time so Game and Fish can provide enough facilitators for breakout groups, Hunter said. In-person meetings will be limited to 50 attendees.

For a list of the working group’s recommendations or to register, go to wgfd.wyo.gov/meetings. For more information, contact Hunter at (307) 335-2609 or Jason.hunter@wyo.gov.

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