Officials eye changes to trapping after dog deaths

The Associated PressJuly 15, 2014 

— The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has agreed to look at new rules for trappers after body-gripping traps killed two pet dogs in northern Idaho last winter.

The commission voted unanimously last week to start making new rules for the body-gripping traps, called conibear traps, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://bit.ly/U79pXl).

Those types of traps are typically used underwater to trap beavers, or put in trees to trap pine martens. But the traps were on the ground when one killed a Great Dane/pit bull mix on a walk with its owner in December. In January, a black Labrador on a run with its owner died in one of the traps.

"The tragedy of those two dogs is just that, an absolute tragedy," said Brad Corkill, the Panhandle representative on the Fish and Game Commission.

The traps that killed the dogs were set up to catch bobcats.

"It's got a very powerful set of springs with it," said Chip Corsi, the commission's Panhandle regional supervisor. "An animal sticks its head through and it snaps. It typically will break the spine, often an instant kill or a very quick kill."

The Fish and Game Commission convened groups in every region after the dog deaths to try to find solutions. The northern Idaho group included the owners of the dogs that died.

"It was a good group," said Corsi. "They were very respectful towards each other and understood everybody's points of view, or made an effort to."

Idaho voters in 2012 approved a hunting rights amendment that enshrined trapping in the Idaho constitution, so trapping is in no danger of being banned. But state officials say they want to find reasonable restrictions on some types of traps that protect pets while allowing trapping.

Corsi said all but three other states require conibear traps that are placed on the ground to be enclosed in a box or bucket that's too small for a dog to enter.

"Most dogs are too big to get more than their nose in very far, so they might get an ouch on their nose, but they're not going to get their head caught," Corsi said. "Whereas a bobcat will go in and investigate."

Officials say the popularity of trapping has increased with the rise of fur prices.

Idaho Fish and Game officials reported in 2012 that during the previous two years, some 800 animals not intended to be trapped were caught. That included 30 dogs, 24 house cats, 102 rabbits, 62 squirrels and 49 skunks.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

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