Nevada trapping regulation debate rages on

RENO — Neither side is happy with proposed changes in Nevada’s regulation of animal trapping.

Trappers say the revisions in the maximum number of days that can pass between site visits to some traps are too stringent, while trapping critics say they don’t go far enough.

Nevada wildlife commissioners are scheduled to take the matter up next month after tentatively approving changes in June that would require more frequent visits — at least once every two days — only to those traps set near the urban areas of Reno, Carson City and Las Vegas.

Currently, the state requires Nevada trappers to check their foothold traps and snares at least once every four days. Last year, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law urging the commission to consider shortening the four-day interval.

Backers of a shorter interval say Nevada’s regulation is one of the least stringent in the nation and puts animals that aren’t targeted, including pets, at risk.

Trish Swain, the founder of the nonprofit group TrailSafe who continues to push for a shorter visitation period statewide, said supporters want to “spare animals from suffering.”

“What we’ve got does not do anything to reduce animal suffering in any meaningful way,” she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Joel Blakeslee, president of the Nevada Trappers Association, said he doesn’t consider the panel’s recommendation a compromise because it basically keeps things the way they are except around bigger cities.

“I don’t think it’s a compromise. Compromise implies both sides get something,” said Blakeslee, who is among those seeking a longer interval statewide.

Nevada’s current requirement 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.

Don Molde, a Reno conservationist who has pushed for trapping reform for 35 years, described the two-day visitation requirement proposed for the urban areas as a “little postage stamp deal.”

“It’s ludicrous. It does nothing to address the problems that we know about,” said Molde, who added he wouldn’t be surprised if no changes in regulations are adopted by wildlife commissioners at their August meeting in Fallon.

Watching developments closely is state Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The 2013 Legislature passed a bill requiring the wildlife commission to consider regulatory changes regarding trapping, including the issues of visitation and trap registration.

“I think it’s fair to say the intent has not been carried out to this point,” Ford said, adding that trapping issues will likely be the focus of discussion by lawmakers during the 2015 session.

Blakeslee thinks it’s unlikely that trapping critics will be satisfied with whatever regulations are ultimately put in place.

“They have no place in their world for people like us,” Blakeslee said. “They want us to live and believe like them.”


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