Hunting, fishing, and trapping are accepted activities — sports, if you will — in Wyoming. That fact was, is, and will forever be, by constitutional mandate in Wyoming. That’s not what’s in question. It’s the regulation of these activities that is. I recently learned that there is a huge disparity between hunting/fishing regulations, and trapping regulations, which are virtually nonexistent.
So, poachers give respectable hunters a bad name. Hunters don’t like what poachers do to their reputation. Well, apparently trappers don’t care about their reputation, because trapping a dog is perfectly acceptable. Trapping an animal they did not intend to, referred to as ‘non-target’ trapping, is perfectly acceptable. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department does not require trappers to report animals they trap, including domestic animals such as livestock or even dogs. And trappers like flying under the radar, not having to report to anyone. But management is necessary, and this is not management by any definition. No one knows how many furbearers there are out there to begin with, let alone how many are left at the end of a trapping season.
Wildlife belongs to everyone, not just one faction. It irritates me when trappers get defensive about regulations. Why shouldn’t they be regulated like their hunting and fishing brethren? Why shouldn’t they be liable when someone’s dog is injured or mortally wounded in a trap, to the tune of hundreds or thousands of dollars? Why should a dog owner be terrified to leave a trail while on a hike, when public lands are the public’s lands? I keep coming back to dogs, because too many dogs in my community alone have been trapped within spitting distance of a parking lot or hiking trail.
Solutions will include set-backs of 500’ or 1000’ off a trail-dogs have good noses; trap-free areas; and reporting by trappers. Reporting is key to data; data is key to management; and management is key to the future of Wyoming’s wildlife. Isn’t it time the Wyoming Game and Fish Department leveled the playing field?
SUZANNE LUHR, Laramie
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