Non-Target Animals Trapped and Killed

Non-Target Animals Trapped and Killed

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

Animals

SpeciesNumberReleased UnharmedReleased InjuredDead
Rabbits41901914003145
Dogs1951631416
Cats11633728
Mountain Lions172135817
Other183155153
Livestock251535
Game332034
Badger1001
Bear2200
Bobcat1100
Chipmunk5006
Ermine1001
Feral Pig1000
Ground Squirrel11119
Pack Rat19300191
Pond Turtle5500
Skunk4103
Total51385824413579

Bird species reported trapped:

Golden Eagle, Hawks, Owl, Blue Heron, Chukar, Coot, Ducks, Geese, Magpie, Quail, Rail, Raven

Really? Somebody can crush this guy in a trap and sell his pelt?

Totals

SpeciesNumbersUninjuredInjuredDead
Animals51385824413579
Birds2344118158
Total53726234593737
New:  Nevada Trapping Victim Fund

New: Nevada Trapping Victim Fund

L-R Dylan Vaske, Bobby Vaske, Floki, Frankie, Brooklyn Vaske, Jessica Manners

There has been overwhelming response to the 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!

Trish Swain House Photos

Trish Swain House Photos

Exterior

Street View. Old growth trees.
Front Door
Garage Door to the right of front door
Outside of bay window – at right angle from front door. Excuse the glare.
Northwest corner
South Side deck
Upstairs deck
Back of house. Faces west
Southwest Corner
Far west backyard shed and RV pad
Southwest corner back yard

Interior

Entry
Stairway
Living Room. Bay window
Dining Area. Doors to upstairs deck
Kitchen window
Kitchen counter tile
Dishwasher and kitchen floor tile
Stovetop.
Oven
Upstairs bedroom windows and door to exterior
Bedroom fireplace with insert
Bedroom facing south. Step between addition and living area of
bedroom. Fireplace is in the living area.
Upstairs bath off bedroom. Tile floor with rugs
Upstairs bathtub
Wood wall trim throughout bathroom and bedroom
Going downstairs
Den. You can see stairs from entry and you can see
downstairs fireplace (with insert) but it’s in shadow
Den
Wet bar in den. Hall to bedrooms visible to left
Guest bedroom
Office
Craft Room
Downstairs bathroom with tile shower
Family Frees Fox

Family Frees Fox

Featured image credit: Jessica Manners. L to R: Dylan Vaske, Bobby Vaske, Brooklyn Vaske, Jessica Manners
Front: Golden Retriever Floki, Husky/Lab Frankie

This story was featured on Las Vegas KTNV March 1, 2022. It went viral in the animal advocacy world and here is the story as told to TrailSafe Nevada by Jessica Manners. This family acted with compassion and courage and ingenuity. By telling their story, they bring a spotlight to the danger, cruelty and indiscriminate nature of trapping, and thereby do a great service to us and to our Nevada wildlife.


I had no idea such a cruel and inhumane practice was happening in my very own backyard…

Credit Jessica Manners: Frankie and Floki

It was a weekend like so many others.. my husband & I, our 2 kids Dylan & Brooklyn, and our 2 dogs Floki & Frankie (a spazzy, sweet golden retriever and a friendly talkative husky/lab mix with a personality) jumped in the car ready for an adventure. My family & I have always loved to hike and explore the desert mountain area west of our house, and do so frequently. We drove a few miles into the desert and found what we thought was the perfect spot for a family hike. We started up the mountain with no clue what we were about to experience.

The first thing that caught my attention was a loud snapping noise. I turned to see my golden retriever baby standing next to a steel leg hold trap that had just been set off. My heart DROPPED, but before I could even react I heard a loud screaming noise coming from the other direction. We ran over to investigate and came across this gorgeous little fox injured and stuck in another leg hold trap. It absolutely broke my heart. We are huge animal lovers and thought FOR SURE we just stumbled across something highly illegal.

Credit: Bobby Vaske

Our kids looked up at us with so much concern in their eyes as if to say “what are we going to do?!” and we knew we had to do some thing. To us, walking away from that animal would have been like killing it ourselves, and we just couldn’t do it. So we ran home and gathered all the supplies we could think of.

My husband (who we call our personal MacGyver) found a broom handle, cut off the end with a saw, folded an extension cord and fed it through the pipe to make a dog-catcher like “loop” at the end. I had the idea to grab a plastic laundry basket so we could put it over the fox and get to his paw without getting bit. 

We raced back to the scene, supplies in hand, and found this poor little creature curled up around the trap looking like he was ready to give up on life. It was heart breaking. We knew whatever we had to do, we were going to get this animal free.

My husband slowly and carefully placed the dog catcher loop around the fox‘s neck and secured him. (He was so calm, it was like he knew we were there to help)  then I gently placed the laundry basket over him so that now just his arm and the trap we’re sticking out. My husband (and hero who watched countless YouTube videos on the way there to learn how these traps work) was able to open the trap and release his paw, allowing the fox to run back into its den. 

Credit: Bobby Vaske

That’s when I realized the trap was literally 3 feet from his home. They put it on his front doorstep so there was no way for him to come out of his home WITHOUT stepping in it. It made me sick.

When we reported the incident we were shocked and horrified at what we learned… not only is trapping LEGAL in Nevada, but its practices are out dated, barbaric, and inhumane.

We learned that here in Nevada trappers only have to check their traps every 96 hours. Meaning an animal can be stuck in a trap for 4 DAYS with no food or water, exposed to the elements and predators with no way of defending itself. And often the trappers stick cattle prods up the animal’s orifice to kill it, IF the animal hasn’t already chewed off its own limb out of desperation.

Something has to change. Even hunters have a duty to pursue, a duty to make sure an animal doesn’t suffer. And suffer they do in these traps, so much so that over 120 countries have curtailed or outright banned trapping altogether. But here in Nevada that’s not the case. 

it’s time to stand up and make our voices heard, Nevada.

L – R: Dylan Vaske, Floki, Jessica Manners, Brooklyn Vaske

Charlotte McConaghy’s book Once There were Wolves

Charlotte McConaghy’s book Once There were Wolves

Featured image credit Highland Titles

Carol Garlington is a trained and certified Massage Therapist whose love for animals and the outdoors is reflected in her writing and her activism. 

Martin A. David is a multi-discipline artist who, like his wife Carol, applies his writing skills to conservation topics. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Charlotte McConaghy’s book Once There were Wolves (Flatiron Publishers—2021) has been coloring my mind ever since I read it. In her novel the Australian writer imagines re-wilding the wolf population in Scotland. The book deals with domestic violence as well as violence towards wolves, horses, the earth itself. The drum beat of rapidly accelerating climate change provides the pacing for this rarely comfortable but often lyrical read.  

As Inti Flynn, the novel’s central character, points out, “…the physiological response to witnessing someone’s pain is a cringe, a recoil, a wince. We are hardwired for empathy. Once upon a time I took delight in feeling what others felt. Now the constant stream of sensory information exhausts me…I can’t get lost in the wolves or I won’t survive.”  

Flynn, who has been sent to Scotland to lead a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to an area of the Scottish Highlands, is affected by the violence she sees on all fronts. She is able to relate the cruelty to the wolves to the cruelty her own sister faces in a dysfunctional relationship. One can only imagine how that empathetic character would react to scrolling through the news reports of fighting in the Ukraine. 

Another major theme of the novel is the thorniness of communicating when generation-held opinions clash. One poignant passage has the main character sharing a recording of wolves howling in such a way that the person she is trying to convince to listen actually does listen and begins to share her passion for wolves. As she points out, they are animals who have in their power the means to restore a degraded environment and make it sustainable again.  

This book does not devastate—which is more than I can expect from tomorrow’s news—but it does present questions that are very real in our world: Will the wolves survive? Will the women? Will violence or measured communication have the upper hand?