ELKO — An advisory panel to the Nevada Wildlife Commission issued an initial suggestion that trapping regulations should remain as they are in Nevada’s less-populated counties.
Currently, the state requires Nevada trappers to check their foothold traps and snares at least once every four days. In May, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law urging the commission to consider shortening the four-day interval to once every 24 hours.
Backers of a shorter interval between mandatory trap checks say Nevada’s regulation is one of the least stringent in the nation and puts animals that aren’t targeted, including pets, at risk.
But the commission’s Trapping Regulation Committee voted 3-2 in Elko last week to suggest that trapping regulations remain unchanged in all counties except Clark and Washoe, with changes in those counties to be determined later. Clark County in the south includes Las Vegas, and Washoe County in the north is home to Reno. The rest of Nevada is fairly rural.
The panel won’t offer a final recommendation for overall policy changes in all counties until it completes a round of statewide meetings in Las Vegas on June 5.
Nevada’s requirement for trap checks every four days is the longest interval in the U.S., with the exception of Maine. That state requires checks every three days within organized towns and every five days outside them. As of 2007, more than half the states required trap checks every 24 hours, according to a report by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
A number of northeastern Nevada trappers and ranchers appealed to the committee during the meeting in Elko to resist any effort to require more frequent visits.
“Changes in the laws would have a devastating effect,” Randall Stoeberl, a Nevada Trappers Association district director in Elko County, told the Elko Daily Free Press (http://tinyurl.com/ooreobx ).
Stoeberl said there’s little money in trapping and most do it as a hobby. He said trapping benefits ranchers whose calves or lambs fall prey to coyotes, as well as landowners pestered by beavers that dam up water sources.
“The main deal is that predation is such a huge issue for sheep and cattle and certainly for wildlife,” added Ron Torell, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association.
The Trapping Regulation Committee comprises four wildlife commissioners and one member of the general public — John Sullivan, vice president of the Nevada Trappers Association.
Sullivan said the new law is intended to address trapping near populated areas of Reno and Las Vegas, but he said the vague wording has prompted concerns it could bring changes elsewhere. The law instructs the commission to “consider requiring a trap, snare or similar device place in close proximity to a populated or heavily used area by persons to be visited more frequently” than traps outside such areas.
In many areas, Sullivan said, checking traps more frequently than every four days would be nearly impossible. Daily checks would force enthusiasts to set traps clustered closers to cities or towns, which he said could risk accidentally ensnaring a pet or person.
TrailSafe, a nonprofit grass-roots network aimed at protecting pets and wildlife, is among those urging shorter visitation intervals partly because of the many nontarget animals that are injured or die in traps.
Donald Molde, a leader of the group based in Sparks, said in a letter to Trapping Committee chairman Dave McNinch last month that Nevada’s four-day requirement is “woefully out of date.”
“The capture, injury and death of thousands of non-target species, including hundreds of dogs, cats and mountain lions and many thousands of rabbits is incomprehensible to the non-hunting, non-trapping public,” Molde said.