Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 1 p.m.
SB 213 testimony before the Nevada Assembly Natural Resources Agriculture and Mining Committee
Thank you for hearing this testimony today.
On Saturday, December 29th, this past winter, our neighbor’s dog Doc was caught in a coil-spring leg-hold trap on our property. There were several inches of snow on the ground during that period and the night-time temperatures were below freezing. It took Doc’s owner, who is an avid outdoorsman, 8 hours to find Doc, finally locating him after dark. Our property, northwest of Reno, has several ravines, rocky cliffs and is covered with dense sagebrush and juniper, making it hard to find a dog that is not moving. Doc had some cuts and bruises from the trap, but fortunately, he had no broken bones. Doc was lucky he was found by his owner, because this beautiful hunting dog may have suffered a terrible death before the trapper bothered to check on this trap 10 days after Doc was caught.
A warden with the Department of Wildlife conducted a thorough investigation of the situation the last two weeks of January. He found our property well marked with “Private Property, No Trespassing” signs, and on three different occasions he hiked our property for several hours and found 6 more traps. He set up a motion-activated camera to catch the trapper “in the act” of checking his traps, but, as it turns out, the trapper never visited any of the additional six traps discovered by the warden.
During this time, we stopped walking and hiking on our property, we kept our dogs locked up in a small yard, and asked our neighbors to stay away from our property until this trapping incident was resolved.
The warden finally found the trapper, thanks to one small lead—someone on January 8th, riding a horse, left a deep, straight trail in the snow between a house southwest of us and Doc’s trap site. On January 30th, a month after Doc was trapped, and after what seemed like an entire winter of feeling like prisoners in our own home, the warden informed us that the fellow at this address admitted to setting the seven traps. He was a first-time trapper this winter and had gotten a trapping license. He admitted to not “visiting” the traps that the warden discovered, because he said he was going to watch them by using a spotting scope. The warden said the traps couldn’t be seen with a scope from this man’s house 1 ½ miles away with the terrain what it is. That’s why the law requires a physical visit. As to why he set his traps on private property the trapper told the warden he didn’t know it was private property–he hadn’t seen any signs. Sadly for the trapper, the warden had my photographs from January 8th, of this man’s horse tracks in the snow passing right next to one of 18 “Private Property/No Trespassing” signs that line the road leading to our house. This fellow admitted to not knowing trapping regulations, saying “he could not find the information.” We were not surprised when the warden told us “there was no education or course of understanding a trapper must take prior to getting a license.” In the end, the warden sited the trapper for baiting violations and visitation violations, and warned him about trapping on private property, using “game” as bait, and “failure to remove a mammal” (the warden could not discuss the last two warnings with us, and frankly, we didn’t really want to know at this point).
This warden was fantastic to work with and worked hard to resolve this case. Had this trapper’s traps been registered, the warden admitted, the case would have been resolved quickly. This would have saved money and time and perhaps would have preserved some sense of the safety and security we have felt on this beautiful piece of property for a quarter-of-a-century. As it is, we will never feel safe there again, and we plan to take the warden’s advice and learn how to free ourselves and our animals from leg-hold traps and snares.
Obviously, we believe all traps should be registered, and we believe trappers should be educated in trapping laws, and we also believe that the “humane treatment of all animals” should be the primary concern of all wildlife agencies. If this bill passes, I hope the Board of Wildlife Commissioners reduces the cruel and absurdly-long trap visitation requirement of 96 hours, to 24 hours, at least in congested areas, but preferably in the entire state.
[Despite attempts at legislation, Nevada still has not revised its 96-hour visitation law which remains the longest statutory visitation period in the USA. Some states have no visitation laws, but most require 24 hours]