Here is a picture of my little guy, Cosmo, the day after- they shaved his leg to make sure he didn’t have any puncture wounds.
On February 11th, 2023, my husband and I were out enjoying a beautiful day of hiking. It was one of those perfect days in Las Vegas when the sun was shining, and the breeze was just right. and we were all in high spirits. We invited our friend to join us as we wanted to show her a beautiful area we discovered just a few weeks prior. We headed out to a trail located about 1.5 miles northwest of the Little Red Rock area. I am not able to find any trail names on a map, however, I have marked the exact location of this issue on Google Maps.
As we were walking along a single-track trail, our beloved dog, Cosmo, suddenly cried in pain. We rushed over to him and found that he had stepped into a leghold trap. It was a horrifying sight, and we were all in shock.
We were incredibly fortunate to be able to immediately free Cosmo from the leghold trap. Cosmo was probably stuck for a little under a minute, however, in that time he had blood around his mouth and on his leg. We were able to wrap an ace bandage around his leg, however, it was clear that he would not be able to hike back to the car due to the injury and pain. The only option was to carry him out of the area ourselves. I wish I would have thought to get pictures of carrying Cosmo out but that was the last thing on my mind. I also should have taken picture of his gums- but again, I think I was just in shock.
It was a grueling and painful task. Cosmo is not a small dog; he weighs just over 50 pounds. We had to carry him for over two miles through rough terrain. The footing on the trail was steep and when carrying a 50-pound dog, a bit treacherous. We had to take lots of breaks because carrying him was just too much for one person to handle. As we walked, we tried to comfort Cosmo as best we could, but it was clear that he was in a lot of agony.
Cosmo is my favorite hiking buddy, and I felt especially devastated to see him in such pain. We’ve been on countless hikes together, and he’s always been such a loyal and adventurous companion.
It was a traumatic experience that we will never forget. Seeing our beloved dog in so much pain was heart-wrenching.
When we finally reached the trailhead, we rushed Cosmo to the vet. We are so incredibly fortunate; he survived the ordeal and is now on the road to recovery. But the memory of that day will stay with us forever.
The most shocking thing about this whole experience was finding out that trapping is legal in this area. There were no warning signs, and this is a multi-use area with lots of people and families enjoying the outdoors.
It’s hard to believe that such a dangerous and inhumane practice is allowed in a place where so many people come to enjoy nature. We were completely unprepared for this, and it’s a tragedy that it took our beloved dog getting hurt for us to learn about this issue.
I did report this with BLM- officer Lewis took my info. It didn’t seem to do much, but I wanted this issue documented.
Please let me now if there is anything else I can do to be helpful. My goal is to help bring an end to this horrible practice.
These areas were negotiated between trapper groups, Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners (NBWC), and the Mt. Charleston Visitor Impact Task Force. They are posted online and are enrolled in Nevada Administrative Code: NAC 504.340. The Task Force did a remarkable job gaining protections for hikers, companion animals and wildlife. We look forward to the day when not only these hard-won areas are closed to trapping, but when public lands throughout Nevada are closed to trapping!
Trapping is prohibited, other than with a box or cage trap, within 1,000 feet of
each side of the following designated hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and recreation areas established within that portion of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest that is located west of U.S. Highway No. 95 and north and east of State Route No. 160 in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area:
Bristlecone Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 148;
Cathedral Rock Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 155;
Echo/Little Falls Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 141;
Fletcher Canyon Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 165;
Griffith Peak Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 140;
Mary Jane Falls Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 159;
Mummy Springs Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 161;
North Loop Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 146;
Robber’s Roost Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 162;
Sawmill Loop Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 973;
South Loop Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 145;
Trail Canyon Trail, United States Forest Service Trail No. 147;
Fletcher View Campground;
Kyle Canyon Campground and Picnic Area;
Mahogany Grove Group Campground;
Cathedral Rock Picnic Area;
Cathedral Rock Group Picnic Area;
Deer Creek Picnic Area;
Foxtail Group Picnic Area;
Old Mill Picnic Area;
Sawmill Picnic Area; and
Blue Tree Dispersed Recreation Area, including United States Forest Service Trail Nos. 849, 850, 851 and 852.
Trapping is prohibited, other than with a box or cage trap, within one-half mile of
any residence in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, T. 19 S., R. 59 E., Sections 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 16.
Trapping is prohibited, other than with a box or cage trap, within 200 feet of
each side of the following designated multi-use routes:
Cardamine Road, United States Forest Service Road No. 001;
Champion Road, United States Forest Service Road No. 203;
Mack’s Canyon Road, United States Forest Service Road Nos. 073, 073A and 073B;
Power Line Road, United States Forest Service Road Nos. 577, 577A, 577B, 872 and 873; and
Telephone Canyon Road, United States Forest Service Road Nos. 530 and 530A.
Dear Wildlife Watchers, our corner of the animal advocacy world can be a pretty frustrating place. We’re making progress on several fronts, but it’s a slow and sometimes imperceptible process, especially here in Nevada.
I, for one, need an infusion of hope and inspiration. The story of Chimpanzees in Need provides all that and more. It is a story of massive obstacles met and overcome, a story of boundless compassion and dedication, and ultimately, a story of success.
To fully appreciate this victory, it is helpful to know some basics about chimpanzees, specifically captive chimpanzees here in the U.S., where they have been exploited in medical research, the entertainment world, and the pet trade.
Next of Kin by Roger Fouts (book)
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary (book) by Andrew Westoll
Chimpanzees are highly endangered. One hundred years ago, there were an estimated 1-2 million chimpanzees across twenty-five countries in Africa. Today, there are as few as 350,000 wild (high estimate) chimpanzees across Africa. https://www.worldchimpanzeeday.org/
Laboratory testing on chimpanzees, humans’ closest living relative, and other great apes was effectively banned in the United Kingdom in 1997. A number of other countries have similar bans, including New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany.
Chimpanzees still suffered abominable conditions in U.S. biomedical labs for many years thereafter.
At long last, June 11, 2013, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to classify both wild and captive chimpanzees as endangered.
September 14, 2015 the USFW proposal is enacted . “It’s hard to overstate how important this is. For nearly a hundred years, chimpanzees have suffered and died in our pursuit of scientific and medical advancements. Later this month, all invasive research on chimpanzees will, at least for a moment, come to an end.” – J.B. Mulcahy, co-director Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
Read the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) statement.
The Wildlife Waystation, located in northern Los Angeles County, was a well-known 160-acre refuge for a great variety of wild and exotic animals. Under the leadership of founder Martine Colette, this was a refuge for chimpanzees released from biomedical laboratories, as well as rescues of many different species from the entertainment industry and the pet trade. After Colette’s retirement, the Waystation found itself unable to continue caring for more than 470 animals, including lions, tigers, wolves, owls, alligators and chimpanzees. The refuge unexpectedly announced its closure in August 2019, meaning the entire population needed new homes. This enormous challenge was met for other species, but 41 chimpanzees remained. There are only a handful of accredited sanctuaries able to care for chimpanzees, who are extremely strong, smart, and socially complex, and require specialized care and housing.
Chimpanzees in Need
The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) was brought in to help locate new homes and lead the campaign to save these chimpanzees in need. The campaign is fiscally sponsored by 7th Generation Advisors, and supported by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, partnering accredited sanctuaries, and remaining team members of the Wildlife Waystation. Learn more here before donating to help
Watch as the Lucky Six: Cy, Lucky, Dora, Rayne, Gordo and Terry begin their journey from southern California to central Washington state. The transport van was provided by Project Chimps, another accredited sanctuary. Ed Pert, Regional Manager, South Coast Region, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife describes his agency’s role and Erika Fleury, Program Director, NAPSA is on hand to explain the need for and the philosophy and advantages of accredited sanctuaries.
A touching moment briefly shows Anher Flores, Senior Manager,Wildlife Waystation, clasping the hand of a chimpanzee in a transport cage to say goodbye. Thetribute to Anher Flores was written July 16, 2021. At that time 26 chimpanzees remained at Wildlife Waystation, but since then every single chimpanzee has found a wonderful new home, though more funds are needed to transport them there.
The accredited sanctuaries identified to rescue these chimpanzees will provide them a new beginning in healthy environments where they will thrive. Click to learn more about each – and the chimps they are saving!
New home construction and long-term care is costly. Every dollar donated goes directly to the chimpanzees in need. All donations are tax deductible and will be accepted and administered by 7th Generation Advisors, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation (Tax ID:20-8771636). The campaign is supported by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, partnering accredited sanctuaries, and the remaining team members of the Wildlife Waystation. No humans are paid. All the funds go to construction of new homes – one year of future care – and current costs at Wildlife Waystation.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Of the many remarkable and inspiring aspects to the story of Chimpanzees in Need, the role of California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is exceptional. I emailed Ed Pert, Regional Manager, South Coast Region, California Department of Fish and Wildlife. I had seen him in the online Chimpanzees in Need Insider Briefing May 18, 2022, where I was impressed by his openness, his concern for the animals, and the major role CDFW took on. We exchanged these emails:
Is your relationship with Wildlife Waystation unusual? Are there other instances of wildlife departments supporting sanctuaries?
That relationship is very unusual. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has never engaged in a project like this. The circumstances were so unfortunate and dire that CDFW had no real choice but to step in and rehome the 481 animals that were possibly not going to have food or water. Thankfully, the Wildlife Waystation staff stayed on to care for the animals. Without that, it would have been a real catastrophe. I am not aware of any other state wildlife departments that have taken on anything like this. CDFW staff did amazing things to find great homes for all the animals. North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) and others have been incredible partners in finding homes for the chimps. This has been a gratifying ride.
The cost and responsibility are considerable! How much longer can CDFW maintain their support?
That’s a good question. The Governor’s Office has approved an allocation to CDFW to support our efforts through the end of next fiscal year (i.e. June 2023). But we believe all the chimps will be rehomed by then so this should be the last needed allocation by the state. Our fingers are crossed.
Did you have occasion to interact with the chimps?
Yes. My experience is that if you don’t get to see chimps very often, they can be scary and intimidating animals because they become very agitated at first. And I’m not one to be afraid of animals, in general. I love and respect all animals. But if you get the chance to spend more time with chimps, for me, they become incredibly sensitive beings. They can still be scary because of their physical power, but they can also be extremely gentle and caring toward one another.
I envy you the opportunity to get to know them. Do you miss those who moved on?
I don’t see them enough to miss them the way I would if I spent a lot of time with them. If I did spend a lot of time at the Wildlife Waystation, I’m sure I would miss them! Thankfully I see them on video at their new, wonderful, homes and that’s very rewarding. My job is to get them to those new homes and I’m very happy and grateful at each move. I’ve been at the facility to witness each move so far. But I know it has been very hard on the caretakers. Some of them have been caring for those chimps for more than 30 years.
Did the CA Wildlife Commission have responsibility to approve your involvement with WW? Were they supportive?
I think you mean the California Fish and Game Commission. They did not have any involvement, but the members have been very supportive. We are also working on an effort to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again by changing the regulations for these types of facilities. It shouldn’t be possible to create a facility for animals and then have to shut it down without enough support to care for the animals. To be fair, this was not entirely the fault of the Wildlife Waystation directors. There were mitigating circumstances. Still, we need to ensure that this does not happen elsewhere.
Update from Ed Tuesday July 5, 2022The “Sunrise Seven” go to Save the Chimps
We just moved 7 more chimps to Florida last Friday night/Saturday morning. It was a long day but in the end it all worked out great. The chimps are all doing really well in their new home. 11 more to go!
It is with very heavy hearts we [Wildlife Waystation] share the sad news that Alyse, one of our 11 remaining chimpanzees at Wildlife Waystation, passed away at age 33. Alyse and her identical twin sister, Amber, were nearly inseparable throughout their lives together. Both Alyse and Amber were rescued from a biomedical research facility. Amber is doing fine and spending time with the twin’s best friend, Mousse, to pass the time. The staff are monitoring this pair of friends closely during this sudden transition.
Now there are 10 chimpanzees remaining at Wildlife Waystation awaiting transfer to Chimp Haven by the end of the year.
Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) requests trappers fill out and return a questionnaire providing data on animals and birds trapped whether the individual was targeted by the trapper or not. The wording indicates that compliance is optional: “NDOW appreciates your participation. . . ” To make participation easier, the agency sends each licensed trapper a postage-paid, addressed envelope.
Comment: This appears absurd. Perhaps from experience a trapper can leave his deadly device where he thinks the desired species will show up. But he cannot be sure. Obviously he has no control over what species will be caught.
Is it clear to trappers that Nevada Administrative Code requires a response?
Language of the Regulation: NAC 503.160
“Failure to return the form or questionnaire within [the period designated annually by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners] or the submission of any false information on the form or questionnaire is cause for the Commission or the Department to suspend the trapping license held by the person and deny the person the right to acquire any trapping license for a period of 1 year.” Is this regulation enforced?
To find an answer about enforcement, we refer to NDOW reports on trapper numbers from 2015 and 2016 which are the most recent we could obtain. So far requests for more current data have not been fulfilled. It appears the average compliance is 19%.
In 2015 from a total of 1334 licensed trappers, only 223 (17%) handed in their end of season reports.
For 2016 we do not have the total number of trappers, but only 58 individual trappers completed their reports.
Data from NDOW Furbearer Harvest Questionnaires 2002-2013
Bird species reported trapped:
Golden Eagle, Hawks, Owl, Blue Heron, Chukar, Coot, Ducks, Geese, Magpie, Quail, Rail, Raven
There has been overwhelming response tothe story of the family who freed the fox, then were threatened with fines and arrest for their act of kindness. The threats were delivered by Nevada Department of Wildlife due to pressure from the trappers. The story went viral and reached compassionate animal-loving hearts everywhere. Many want to donate toward the Vaske family’s defense.
To respond, along with our colleagues from Animal Protection Affiliates, we in Nevada established Nevada Trapping Victim Fund. The Fund will cover expenses for the family’s defense. Any funds left over, or contributed in future, can be used for other victims of trapping – which could include veterinarian bills for injured pets, fines, etc.
We will help people, and we will spotlight cases. After fifteen years of collecting trapping victim stories, the sad truth emerges – trappers fly under the radar – injuring pets and never compensating for veterinarian bills; disregarding laws and regulations; wielding undue influence on government agencies. This needs to be exposed!
Donations to the Fund are not tax deductible at this time. All gratitude for any donations!