I was snared by the foot Jan. 19, 2014. I also saw three other snares right on the trail. And I saw three traps about 50 feet from a well-used local trail. On Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, I was walking with my son on a trail near the Bonneville Dam, along the Carson River. This is an unofficial recreational area near Gardnerville popular with fishermen, families, children and pets. In summer, folks swim there.The trail is well used and I hike there frequently. I was walking a few feet ahead of my son. Luckily our dogs were not with us. I saw three snares placed directly on the trail. But I didn’t see a snare hidden under a nearby sagebrush, and I stepped into this wire snare. It tightened around my foot, halfway up my shoe. It was intensely painful. Fortunately I didn’t take another step, or I would have fallen down. I cussed, then I figured out how to tighten the noose until I could work the clip and loosen the snare. As far as I can tell, I did not sustain any lasting injury. Besides these snares, I saw three traps about 50’ from the trail. I do not object to trapping if it is reasonable. But this was unacceptable. I will call NV Dept. of Wildlife to show them where these traps are set and determine if they are legal or not. – Matt McCann [Mr. McCann had no lasting physical injury. But the shock and fear of an unexpected snaring is certainly traumatic.]
“The first Saturday after Christmas I took my employers two family dogs, Beowulf and Raley, out for a walk on their private property. The dogs and I hiked to one of our favorite spots. On our way back on the familiar trail, I suddenly heard the horrendous cries of Beowulf just a short distance off the main trail in the brush. It was not far from Foothill Road near a spring where the dogs often stop to drink. I called my boss and screamed for her to come as I tied up the other dog and took off running in the direction of the dogs cries for help. It sounded so ferocious; I was sure this two-year-old male dog Beowulf was being torn from limb to limb by a wild animal. When I had him in sight, I realized his foot was in a large black metal trap attached to a chain with a 3-way style barb on the end of it that was tied further off in the distance to a tree.
Beowulf, with his bare teeth, was frantically and helplessly trying to extricate himself from this horrible trap’s grip. The only thing to do was to throw myself on top of him to force him to stop pulling and biting at the trap. His efforts to release himself were only causing him to bleed and suffer more. It was the most horrific sight and the worse pain I’ve ever witnessed an animal in in my 51 years.
Never having seen a trap myself, I had no idea how to get it off, only what seemed like common sense at the time to at least try. It didn’t work. My boss Judy arrived, tried to get it off and was bitten in the process as the dog was in such horrible pain and was simply fear biting and difficult to hold down. Shortly after that, a man appeared with a gun. Judy and I were alarmed at first thinking he might be the trapper and asked “who are you, and why do you have a gun…this is private land”. He said his wife had heard my screaming and so he came running, thinking it was I who was being attacked.
My boss Judy called 911 and was told there was nothing they could do. The man who arrived with the gun could not get the trap off the dog’s foot either; none of us knew how. It took a good hour or more before animal control arrived. Apparently, there was no one else to call to come and help. When a woman named Liz from animal control finally did arrive I asked if she could get the trap off. She said she couldn’t guarantee it but would try. Having already tried so many times and not wanting to further hurt the dog, I was surprised to realize she did not have a way to tranquilize the dog. What she did have was a muzzle, which Judy was able to put on the dog as I held him down. Thankfully, and due to Liz’s willingness and skill, she was able to release Beowulf’s foot from the trap and we carried him to the vet.
The Vet said that Beowulf was extremely lucky. He had chipped bones and broken teeth as well cuts and bruises but in time it would heal. I realized how truly lucky he was because had the trap caught his foot or leg in either direction up or down, I doubt he’d ever be able to walk again. The vet assistant, Carolyn Hernandez gave me a ride home (my boss was in the emergency room getting stitches for her hand). Carolyn described how common this was becoming. She said several domesticated animals from the surrounding area were coming into their practice much more frequently as a result of having been caught in traps. One of the dogs she mentioned had to have his foot amputated and another lost all his toes. This made me realize this was a problem happening to others pets in the area as well. The trauma this has caused for anyone involved namely Beowulf, Judy with her hurt hand, and myself, with cuts and bruises, I can tell you is no small thing.
Beowulf had a very lucky ending and is miraculously going to be ok. But the situation has led me to think of several questions I would like answered: is their anyone overseeing and or enforcing the law that says it is a federal offense to trap on private land? The game warden did tell us when he showed up the next day that putting a trap on someone’s private land is in fact a federal offense and open to criminal prosecution as it very well should be. What else do we need to know about this law? As it turns out, trappers used to be required to have numbers on their traps so they could be identified. Apparently, they no longer are required to do so thanks to the local ordinance being changed. Why is this?
Three days later on the afternoon of December 31st, my boss got a tip from a neighbor on the lookout, that there was a truck just past the “No Tresspassing” signs on her private property. When she got there she found three men and asked them what they were doing on her property. They told her they were quail hunting though they were all carrying pistols and didn’t have quail hunting guns. She said, “Are you the ones who have been trapping on our land? Our dog got caught in a trap recently and was hurt and so was I“. They said no and quickly left. Judy then called the game warden and gave him the license plate number. The game warden said that he saw that same truck down on Jacks Valley road and confirmed that they were in fact trapping that day. Judy rushed over to her daughter Leah’s house on the same property and together they called 911 and went in pursuit of the truck. Judy and Leah tracked the trappers down on Kingsbury Road in an area where they could have re-accessed their private land. The police and the game warden arrived and issued a citation and wrote up a report on only one of the trappers. His name is John Helming. Apparently the law says that when you trespass on private land you are not arrested and that it is up to the owner to prosecute. This man pretended to be very apologetic, swearing there were no more traps and stating that he would pay for Judy’s medical bills (she spent several hours in the emergency room getting stitches) and the vet bill too; but begging all the while to not have his name put in the paper. A little while later, the game warden came to the house and said and I quote: “Well, you know, this guy is truly sorry so maybe you should just give him the benefit of the doubt”. I have to say this attitude troubled me because this man knew he was trespassing when he went right by the “No Trespassing” signs, and then further lied about being there to hunt Quail. Clearly, there was absolutely no benefit of the doubt to be given.
The next day we found another trap staked to a log not far from where the two other known traps had been. The disturbing reality that has come out of this experience is that we have no way of knowing if there are more traps and we are now afraid to walk on property that is supposed to be private and safe. If someone walked in your yard and tortured your animal, what would you do? This is no different, in fact it’s actually more brutal precisely because it is so hidden and difficult to prevent. But that is exactly why we must change things. We must ask ourselves if we are willing to allow this to continue? We must hold accountable trappers who are illegally trapping and breaking the law as well as those who are sworn to enforce it.
Think about if any one of us got caught in a trap ourselves somewhere? What if we didn’t have a cell phone with us when we were out for a walk and this happened to our child, our pet or us?
I hope the community will come together on this subject, first to ensure the general public is made aware of this very real danger and secondly to get behind some kind of action we are willing to take to stand up for our rights.
I would like to suggest a community wide meeting of all the people who have pets that have been caught in these traps whether on private land or in frequently visited public areas such as hiking trails where people go with their children and their pets. At the very least, these trappers need to get the message that we will not allow them to endanger us. I would like to see communities help in reporting these crimes and looking for the criminals who are perpetrating them on us and our animals in our communities; and in general to make the unsuspecting public aware of the very real potential for danger.
And then lastly of course, to make sure we create the type of environment where we each have the others back, report anyone we know or suspect of this illegal trapping and keep our eyes and ears open to people being on land they shouldn’t be on. We wouldn’t have caught the guy without help from our neighbor.
The bottom line is trappers who are trapping illegally and close to public access lands with trails, are not just torturing helpless wild animals anymore, they are also putting our lives at risk. The community deserves to know who these illegal trappers are. Their names should absolutely be printed in the paper and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
We camped in the Blue Wing Mountains (Pershing County) during trapping season one year. Our dog Muttley was caught in a leg trap. My husband was able to free him and Muttley only suffered soft tissue damage but my husband was bitten in the process and had his own wounds to tend to. It clearly is extremely painful for an animal to be trapped! We camped in the same area the next year too. This time we hiked and saw a coyote pup caught in a trap. We were camped nearby and we had to listen to that pup howling and yipping for three days. At no time did we see anyone tend the trap. I came back to town and looked up the NRS for trap tending and was absolutely horrified to find out what it said. Clearly their suffering is extreme, and the fact that it goes on for 96 hours–4 days!!!!–before they are put out of their misery is unconscionable. Pain, no food, no water and then death. It should NOT be a prolonged process. We have a large state and such long distances trappers have to travel that I’m sure they claim it is unreasonable to have to check traps every 24 hours but we, as human beings, have the obligation to recognize the suffering of our wildlife and to make laws which limit that suffering!
My wife and I were hiking in Spanish Springs, in Griffith Canyon, along the canyon floor, in early March, 2012. We entered the canyon at its NW end, just E of El Molino. After a bit, the trail forks. We took the right-hand fork which leads to the petroglyphs. There was a branch across the trail, blocking the trail so that we were forced to go around. Above this was a white flag. We investigated and found a large steel-jaw leghold trap, with teeth, concealed under the branch.
A bit further up the trail, I noticed a strange sensation on my ankle. My wife saw it was a snare and yelled for me to stop. I was able to remove the steel snare before being tripped and possibly injured on rocks or sharp brush, or breaking my ankle. I noted the snare was attached to a stake in the ground.
As I was not injured, I didn’t call any authorities, but this experience leads to several questions: “They should post a sign. Animals can’t read; it wouldn’t keep animals away, but it would protect people.” “What if a deer gets caught out of season?” “I was lucky to be wearing boots. What if somebody with tennis shoes got snared?”[Griffith Canyon is a popular local attraction where families and groups frequently hike to the petroglyphs.This hiker did not sustain lasting injury, but the potential for serious injury was certainly present.]
Reno Gazette Journal Letter to the Editor Dec. 5, 2011
I wish to address the use of leg-hold traps used on public
lands near housing developments.
This past Sunday, my dog was caught in one in an area where
we walk frequently close to home. In trying to remove the trap, my husband was
bit quite badly. In this same area several other people’s dogs have also been
caught in these traps, one losing its leg as a consequence.
These traps should not be allowed in high-use areas. Many
individuals use this particular area for hiking, horseback riding and walking
their dogs. I find the use of them extremely inhumane, leaving an animal
trapped for up to four days before they have to check them.
Please, if you feel the need to hunt this way, make sure you
place them in an area far enough away where someone’s poor dog won’t be caught
I was running Kaiser January 2, 2011 (German short hair
pointer) in an area that I have run dogs for the past 30 years. He chased a rabbit up and over a hill and
that’s where he was snared. I was able to
find him by his whimpers and by my other dog walking over to him. Kaiser was lying under a juniper tree and his
coat matched the dirt–he was difficult to see.
Luckily, the steel leg hold trap only grabbed skin on his shoulder–no
meat, no tears. There was blood, but it
turned out to be mine when the trap cut into my palm as I was opening it to
The trap seemed to be fairly new but had not been visited
(no tracks in the snow) for a few days.
It was set off a dirt road where I have taken my dogs for the last 25-30
years in the back of Lemmon Valley on the way to Antelope Valley.
I have notified my neighbors and will forward all information to them. My suggestion was to put up signs warning people there were traps in the area. This is an area used by many for exercising dogs, 4-wheeling, etc. I was also very disappointed to discover that Nevada had the 96 hour rule instead of 24 hours as apparently other states have.
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