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…
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.
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.
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.