Trapping reform is a reality in 2020, Third step: WGF Commission meeting September 9-19, 2020!
Wyoming Untrapped petitioned the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to consider trap-free reform in 2020 instead of the scheduled 2022. The Commission voted not to immediately open the trapping regulation. However, the Commission did direct the Department to investigate by initiating an internal trapping reform stakeholder process statewide. The Committee presented their findings to the Commission with new directions to find common ground. We are in this process now, on a fast-track. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for September 9-10. The Commission will leave the door open to consider new trapping regulations after they have more detailed information.
Friends, relatives and colleagues of Wyoming Untrapped: We need you Now!
Why Trapping Reform 2020:
Trapping incidents and illegal trapping are being reported throughout Wyoming. Over the Christmas 2019 holiday in Teton County, WY, a trapline was set adjacent to a highly used public trail in the Cache Creek Drainage. Following this incident, a beloved dog, “Mac”, was killed by a deadly spring-loaded snare on a public landscape in Fremont County.
Wyoming Untrapped (WU) sent a petition letter in January to formally request that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapping regulations be opened for amendment this year. Given the alarming increase of land-use conflicts across Wyoming, WU asked the Commission to consider amendments to trapping regulations this summer 2020 instead of the review schedule for 2022. The Commission voted not to immediately open the trapping regulation, but chose to move forward with trapping reform options.
However, the Commission did direct the Department to investigate by initiating an internal trapping reform stakeholder process statewide and deliver the research and survey responses back for their consideration on July 15, 2020. The process is moving forward now on a fast-track.
The new internal stakeholder trapping reform committee will be directed by Rick King – Chief of Wildlife Division, and Jason Hunter – Lander Region Supervisor. New details will be presented in the following week, public meetings will be scheduled, and we will have a direction for WU’s involvement. The Commission may discuss and may vote to take action in September 2020. WU will attend by ZOOM due to COVID safety risks.
Joining us in this effort is the new grassroots group we have worked closely with, formed as the result of Mac’s Senneker snare death in Fremont County. Mac’s owner and other friends are joining us to take action through the initiation of WY Trap FREEmont County, a new grassroots group to address trapping reform in Fremont County to safely use public lands for recreation with our pets and children. Also, the Wyoming Coalition of Animal Protection who we have been connected with was initiated last year in Laramie with the mission to advance animal protection in Wyoming through education, training and legal advocacy statewide. They are breaking new ground in the legislative front. The forces for creating protection for people, pets and wildlife are growing in Wyoming!
WU is breaking new ground! We are asking for the Wyoming public to write or email the Commission to support our requests. We have listed take action talking points below, with a deadline of Tuesday, September 8. Thank you!
Wildlife agencies need to act progressively on trapping reform 2020.
The incidental trapping of pets resulting in injuries and death continues to increase on our public lands. In the wake of these tragedies, current WGFD regulations leave recreationalist believing that there is no or little accountability in the sport of trapping and that there is “no safe place for recreationalist in Wyoming.” This dynamic is bad for the sport of trapping and bad for Wyoming.
TAKE ACTION September 9-10, 2020
ZOOM registration directions are attached to the meeting agenda. There are two different links, so you will need to register separately for each day.
PUBLIC COMMENTS AT THE MEETING:
To help facilitate your request to provide comments at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting, you must complete and submit an advanced comment form agenda item to Sheridan.Todd @wyo.gov by September 8, 2020.
Email or Letter:
Executive Assistant/Office of the Director
Wyoming Game and Fish Commission
c/o Sheridan Todd
5400 Bishop Blvd.
Cheyenne, WY 82006
Commission Meeting: September 9-10, 2020
Focus on Trapping Reform
Furbearer trapping regulations in the coming year will be adjusted and updated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. WU has in the past, and continues to, assert that the following trapping regulation changes are necessary. Please stay tuned as we work through the process to create a safe and humane environment on our public lands.
- Trap Free Areas (Legislature and/or Commission) – Ask for trap-free areas for heavily used public recreation areas in Teton County, Fremont County and statewide. Access to trap free lands is a public right.
- Ban of all trigger-loaded Power snares and Senneker snares (Legislature and/or Commission)– Power Snares and Senneker snares are extremely lethal, non-target species including pets are killed almost instantly. These traps should not be allowed on Wyoming’s landscape.
- Mandatory Signage (Legislature) – Caution signs, warning recreationalist, hunters, anglers and non-consumptive users of the dangers of trapping and specific trap placement on public lands, should be a mandatory requirement.
- Trap Set Backs (Commission) – Trap setbacks of 300 feet off of busy public trails statewide. The public has a right to safe travel on trails, this right extends to their traveling companions, including dogs and livestock.
- Mandatory Reporting – Non Target and Pets (Legislature) – Reporting of all non-target species trapped and/or killed, including pets. Trappers and the Wyoming Game and Fish would argue that trapping is a management tool. Without mandatory reporting there is no data, without data there is no management.
- Mandatory Reporting – All Species (Legislature) – Reporting of all species trapped. See above. Trappers and the Wyoming Game and Fish would argue that trapping is a management tool. Without mandatory reporting there is no data, without data there is no management.
- Mandatory Trapper Education (Legislature) – Mandatory trapper education should be a requirement. Idaho’s mandatory Trapper Education Law went into effect July 1, 2018. This law requires first time trappers to complete a Trapper Education Course before purchasing a license. The class is designed to teach trappers how to “minimize impact on others” as well as best practices to avoid trapping, injuring and killing non-target animals. Wyoming is lagging behind our neighboring states on trap reform that would make our public lands safer for all.
- Mandatory Conservation Stamp Purchase (Legislature) – “Funds from the conservation stamp purchase are used to support habitat and wildlife projects in Wyoming”. (Quote from WG&F website) Anglers and Hunters are required to purchase a Conservation Stamp, trappers are not. Trappers, who use the public’s wildlife for economic gain, should, more than any other user, be required to purchase a Conservation Stamp.
- Live Traps (Commission) – Live traps should be used wherever and whenever possible. Live traps would ensure that non target species, including protected and endangered species, can be released unharmed. Snares, leg hold, Conibear, Senneker and Power Snares are non-discriminate, they kill and maim regardless of species and protection status.
- 24–Hour Trap Checks ( Legislature) – Support of 24-hour trap checks statewide by writing your state representatives. Changing this law will require action by the Wyoming State Legislature. Wyoming is one of fourteen states that have not addressed the need for 24-hour trap checks. Wyoming state law currently requires a 72-hour check for leg hold traps and up to 13 days for snares and quick kill traps. Long trap check cycles result in suffering, pain, dehydration, starvation and loss of litters when a female/mother is trapped. For family pets that have been trapped, a 24-hour trap check could mean the difference between life and death.
- Require all traps and snares to be removed at the end of trapping season (Legislature) – Thousands of traps and snares are left behind on our public landscapes at the end of trapping season. Some remain active. Trappers should be responsible for cleaning up all litter and hazards which they have placed on the land.
- Initiate statewide trapping reform stakeholder task force ( Legislature) – Trapping reform awareness statewide is growing rapidly which is initiating more public involvement and demand for immediate change.
- Review furbearer trapping regulations every two years ( Legislature) – Trapping regulations are scheduled for review on a three-year time frame. However, hunting and fishing are reviewed every two years.
Original words directly from your own heart and mind are more likely to be given consideration than words and phrases that sound scripted. See the take-action box above to email or mail your comments to Sheridan Todd, Executive Assistant/Office of the Director, Sheridan.Todd@wyo.gov. She will distribute your comments to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. If you prefer a personal connection with your Commissioner, feel free to call or email directly. Thank you!
WHY TRAPPING REFORM IS URGENT IN 2020
- The incidental trapping of pets resulting in injuries and death continues to increase on our public lands.
In the wake of these tragedies, current WGFD regulations leave recreationalist believing that there is no or little accountability in the sport of trapping and that there is “no safe place for recreationalist in Wyoming.” This dynamic is bad for the sport of trapping and bad for Wyoming.
- Over the last several years, WU has recorded 71+ reported dog trapping incidents in Wyoming.
Ten of these died. Seven of the 71+ incidents were in Teton County. There could be many more out there, but no official record exists. Just recently, two trapping incidents took place in a week. Just a couple days before the Christmas 2019 holiday, a dangerous trapline was set in the Cache Creek area adjacent to town. In this case, the trapper was cited for two violations and appeared in the Teton County court. A few days later, on January 4, 2020, a beloved pet, “Mac,” was caught in a lethal power snare and died within two minutes in the arms of Karen Zoller on public land in Fremont County. When WU asked for action on Mac’s case, some of the WGFD staff had never heard of these new snares, increasing the danger on our public lands. Emotions are high, and Wyoming residents are now reaching out to you and their electeds.
- To avoid future incidents, we propose the establishment of criteria to guide trapping closures on “highly used public recreation areas” statewide,
Beginning with areas that have documented conflict histories, such as Teton County, Fremont County, Park County, and the towns Laramie, Pinedale and Rock Springs. Examples of “a highly used public area” in Teton County are Cache Creek, Game Creek, Old Pass Road, Snow King Trail Network, Teton Canyon and Darby Canyon. Today, the overall use of the Cache Creek trail system continues to rise and is estimated as high as 1526 daily, with an annual average of 400 people per day per a trail counter data summary 2019. GIS maps of these areas shows the trail count numbers, and the need for trapping closures. Overall Map.
- WU is asking for the ban of all trigger-loaded snares like the one that recently killed “Mac” in Fremont County. Our request compares any mechanical advantage assisted snare to the dangerous large size body grip traps, 330 conibears. The same non-selectivity and the same lethality. Dogs, cats, nontarget raptors and game animals and livestock will be more seriously injured or killed by these snares. The trappers can argue that the time until death of their target adult prime coyotes or bobcats will be reduced – – – but their ability to release young, or non target animals ( including domestic dogs) will be gone. And your ability to release you own dog while hiking or hunting before it suffocates will be reduced. These mechanically advantaged snares should be prohibited.
- On behalf of Wyoming Untrapped, Mac, and the citizens of Wyoming,
please consider restricting the use of all power snares, such as the Senneker spring snare or quick-kill snares, as soon as possible.
- WGF Commission and WGF Department are our wildlife management leaders.
The failure to respond to the increase of land-use conflicts across Wyoming, specifically in Teton and Fremont Counties, perpetuates land use conflict. At the Lander WGFD workshop participants were reminded to be responsible land users and that their pets’ welfare is the sole responsibility of their owners. Blaming grieving residents for failure to see and avoid hidden lethal traps on public lands is ridiculous. We know Wyoming can do better and ask you to please step up and lead.
- Given the danger present today by power snares hidden and loaded on public land,
we request that the topic of power snare restriction be considered immediately on all public and private land in the state. Given WGFC procedures and protocol, please add this topic to our request for trapping regulation amendment this year, instead of waiting until 2022.
- Please consider the following trapping reform:
trap-free areas for heavily used public recreation areas statewide, required signage where traps and snares are present, reporting of all species trapped, a ban of the new deadly trigger-loaded power snare and Senneker snare, reporting of all non-target species trapped and/or killed, including pets, trap setbacks of 300 feet off of busy public trails statewide, required purchase of Conservation Stamp for all trappers, use of live traps whenever possible, mandatory trapper education, and support of 24-hour trap checks statewide.
- Two more groups have formed in the state due to the continued lack of domestic and wild animal protection. Wyoming Coalition of Animal Protection is a grassroots organization formed with the mission to “advance animal protection in Wyoming through education, training and legal advocacy”. Following the snaring death of “Mac”, the WY Trap FREEmont County is a “grassroots group, working on trap reform in Fremont County to safely use public lands for recreation with our pets and children.”
- There are emerging trends in national wildlife management.
We value and protect wildlife as vital contributors to the health of our public landscapes, and for the intrinsic character and worth of all furbearing animals. We value the significant impact of wildlife watching on tourism – Wyoming’s 2nd largest industry. Wyoming’s wildlife management is not keeping pace with our modern society’s views.
- Wildlife management should better represent the values of all citizens.
Our wildlife is a public treasure owned equally by all citizens and taxpayers. Therefore, it is not just that a few people are allowed to indiscriminately trap and kill this wildlife. Trapping and snaring greatly reduces the number of animals and thus the number of wildlife sightings for the public – depriving them of much pleasure.
- Unacceptable deaths and severe injuries to non-target species; even animals released alive may later die from their injuries.
We don’t know how many non-target animals are trapped/snared, injured or killed in traps each year. All of the ~thousands of non-target animals should be required reporting by trappers.
- Personal experience with a companion animal caught in a trap.
Warning signs should be required in areas where there are traps and snares to increase public safety. Traps are legal on all public trails where dogs can be walked. There should be 300 ft setbacks off trails, or trap-free areas where anyone can have a reasonable expectation of safety on our public lands. Trappers should be accountable for injuries or death to your pet.
- There is an absence of sportsmanship, fair chase, and compassion in trapping.
Every animal in Wyoming, including endangered species, is a possible victim of traps and snares. It is not fair chase to not know your target, or to sit at home on a couch and wait for a catch.
- The pure cruelty of trapping causing injuries, exposure, dehydration and mental stress, and often immense suffering.
All trap-check time requirements should be reduced to 24 hour trap checks, or should traps be eliminated from our landscapes. Jeremy Bentham famously asked, “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ Nor, ‘Can they talk?’ But, “can they suffer?'”
- Our public lands should remain safe havens for all.
All people, pets and wildlife should have a reasonable expectation for safety on our public lands, which means trap-free areas for all.
- The overall management of trapping is rarely cost-effective.
A furbearer trapping license costs $45 for all you can catch. How can that be cost-effective for our state? Perhaps one license should be required for each furbearer species and a limited quota.
- Trapping, which is not based on a science foundation, does little or nothing for effectively managing any species population.
We don’t have a population count on our state furbearers, but we allow unlimited quotas. We should place quotas on all furbearer trapping. Where is the science?
- Trapping lost its charm long ago as a Wyoming tradition, let alone an American one.
A growing debate about the legitimacy of trapping shows that a shift is coming. Trapping for fun, trophies, fur and feeding one’s ego is no longer acceptable by a growing modern population.
- Trapping rarely serves any citizen other than the one who owns the trap.
It is time to create a statewide Trapping Advisory Committee to lend a citizen’s perspective to WGFD in reviewing the science and management of trapping, and predicting and anticipating public sentiment.