Numerous Nevadans told horror stories of their pets becoming accidental victims of unmarked traps Thursday during a legislative committee meeting to consider tightening state trapping laws.
Members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee heard arguments on Senate Bill 213 for several hours from citizens concerned with the danger of traps, and trappers who said the bill was impractical.
“This bill would be the beginning of regulation,” said Amie Ruckman, who testified about her dog that got caught in a coyote box trap. “If it was marked we would have known it was there and we would have gone right instead of left, and not let the dogs off the leash.”
She said her dog suffers from lasting complications from the experience.
Current law requires trappers to check their traps at least every four days, but the bill would require daily checks.
The bill also would require traps to be registered by their owners and would have traps identified by flags. The bill allows tampering with traps if there is an imminent danger to a person or pet.
But opponents say restricting trapping will install more danger closer to population centers.
“Over 60 dogs were killed on private property in the Spanish Springs subdivision alone by coyotes last year, and they said 63 dogs were caught in traps. Trapping saves more dogs than it hurts,” said Joel Blakeslee, a lobbyist for the Coalition for Nevada Wildlife. “Putting in these limits would also have adverse effects on local wildlife management.”
If trappers were mandated to check their traps on a daily basis, their range would be dramatically limited and the possibility for accidents would increase, he said.
“If you do this, you’re going to see 70 trappers in hiking areas just outside of town rather than 200 miles out — you’d also have no cats on this mountain but too many out there,” Blakeslee said. “It makes it more dangerous for hikers and for bad wildlife management.”
He added that flagging individual traps could lead to intentional destruction or theft of the traps.