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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Publication: Reno Gazette-Journal

Nevada animal trapping raises concerns of pet owners as debate renewed

By Jeff DeLong jdelong@rgj.com

The need to protect domestic pets from harmful animal traps, a risk of interfering with professional pest controllers and affronts to private property rights are again emerging as sensitive issues as state wildlife officials renew debate over urban trapping regulations.

A subcommittee of the Nevada Wildlife Commission held a workshop on the issue in Reno on Wednesday, two days after a similar forum in Las Vegas.

A draft proposal, stemming from legislation passed by the 2011 Legislature, would ban leg traps within 1,000 feet of homes in Washoe and Clark counties.

Animal advocates argue that's not near good enough, pushing Wednesday for banning traps much further from homes — perhaps by nearly a mile.

"The more comfort we can have the better off we are," said Trish Swain, organizer of the nonprofit group TrailSafe. TrailSafe successfully pushed to ban trapping near popular hiking trails near Mount Rose in 2006 and is now trying for expanded regulations in residential areas of Nevada's most populous counties.

The Legislature directed the Wildlife Commission to pass trapping regulations after it failed to do so in 2010.

Joel Blakeslee, president of the Nevada Trappers Association, said his group is willing to back regulations banning trapping within 1,000 feet from homes but no further.

Blakeslee said instances of pets getting caught in traps is "an isolated thing" that rarely occurs and objected to statements that traps could endanger children.

"We have no interest in catching pets," Blakeslee said. "As far as pets go, we work very hard to avoid that (from) happening."

The subcommittee heard several perspectives during Wednesday's discussion, designed to elicit public feedback. The full Wildlife Commission must ultimately approve any regulations and if it fails to do so, the issue will return to the Legislature.

Alfred Knepper told commissioners of his dog getting caught in a trap while being walked in the Dogskin Mountains north of Reno in January 2011, an incident that "cut her quite badly."

Jana Menard of South Lake Tahoe said her dog was caught in a trap in the Carson Valley, resulting in injuries and $3,000 in vet bills.

"It was horrific," she said of the incident.

Others argued against the trapping regulations, including longtime trapper and Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, who said coyotes and raccoons pose a much greater threat to pets.

"The reason I oppose this is that it actually takes away public safety," Hansen said.

Doug Busselman, chief of the Nevada Farm Bureau, said private property should be exempt from any trapping rules.

"I think it's important traps be recognized as an effective tool," he said.

Mark Hutchinson of Reno's Critter Control joined other pest control professionals in urging commissioners not to remove what they described as an important tool of their trade.

Finding compromise over the issue will likely prove difficult, said David McNinch of Reno, the conservation appointee to the Wildlife Commission and chairman of the trapping subcommittee.

"This is a very emotional issue for everybody. That goes without exception," McNinch said. "This is a very complex, difficult process to go through."

 


“The time has come and gone when it is acceptable to regard this world as a resource to be exploited for the comfort of a single species. Animals with a central nervous system are too much like us to be treated as chattel.” Professor J.B. Neilands