SALEM, Ore. - Trapping seasons are getting under way, and this year, there are some new regulations meant to protect pets. the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday.
Beginning this season, traps and snares on state and federal lands may not be set within 50 feet of any public trail or within 300 feet of any trailhead, public campground or picnic area.
Also, killing trap with a jaw spread between 7.5 and 9 inches set on public land cannot be placed more than 50 feet from a permanent or seasonal water source.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted these rules because dogs running loose have accidentally been captured in legally set traps, causing injury or even death to the dog. (A spate of such cases in Central Oregon has led to a petition signature drive to put a trapping ban on the ballot in November of 2014.)
ODFW officials said the Oregon Trappers Association supports the new state restrictions.
"Just about every trapper I know has a dog, and the last thing we want to see is a beloved family pet caught in a trap," said Doug Nichol, president of OTA. "OTA will continue to work with our members to make sure traps are set in ways that minimize the risk of capturing pets and any species we are not targeting."
ODFW said dog owners share in the responsibility to keep their pets safe during trapping seasons. Consider taking the following steps to help keep your pet safe:
- Keep your dog on a leash.
- Or, keep your dog in sight and under voice command—don't let it wander off, especially out of sight.
- Remember lures and baits used by trappers can attract dogs too (another reason to keep your dog under your control).
- Be mindful of where and when trapping activities may occur—on public lands and on private lands by permission. Most trapping seasons and activities occur during the winter because pelts are in prime condition at this time.
- Carry the appropriate tools (wire cutter and length of rope) and know how to use them to release your dog from a trap.
Some ODFW field offices have demonstration trap sets. Pet owners may call their local office to make an appointment to come in and see how traps work and how to safely release a pet from a trap.
The organization UtahPAWS also has tips on how to release pets from traps on their website:
Foothold traps http://utahpaws.org/pet_safety/foothold_traps
Conibear (killing) traps http://utahpaws.org/pet_safety/conibear_traps
The chance of a dog being captured in a trap is low, based on the number of traps in relation to public land. Traps set for coyotes, bobcats and raccoons are the types of sets most likely to inadvertently capture a dog.
Individuals that see traps they believe are illegally set should not disturb the trap, but contact Oregon State Police. OSP can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap. Meddling with traps is unlawful.
Bobcat trapping season opens Dec. 1. Raccoon trapping season opened Nov. 15. Coyote trapping season is open all year.