We read about the unfortunate incident involving Michelle Stennett and her dog and would like to extend our sympathies for what must have been a very harrowing experience. This was a very regrettable incident that no responsible trapper wants to cause.
I have personally spoken to the trapper about the incident, and despite the reporting, he assured me the trap was indeed legally placed and tagged in accordance with the regulations. This trapper has never had a wildlife citation or warning in his entire life. He has placed that trap in that spot since the first-ever wolf trapping season and felt it was safe given the remote location. After I talked to the conservation officer at the scene and the regional supervisor, the situation is still being investigated but no tickets have been issued.
Each year, responsible trappers exercise a great deal of discretion and judgment to avoid incidental captures and conflict with other outdoor enthusiasts. A quick review of the state’s reporting indicates that tappers, overall, are very successful in that respect. These incidents are rare and, in fact, statistically too small to even calculate. There is an inherent risk to any outdoor pursuit in a state as wild as Idaho and dog owners must think about cars, cougars, porcupines, rattlesnakes and other things that routinely injure dogs. This isn’t in any way meant to diminish Ms. Stennett’s anguish and concerns, but the truth is that trapping is conducted very safely alongside other outdoor activities each year. I personally take my two dogs on the trapline with me every day of the season.
That said, conflicts are very location-dependent and that is why the Idaho Trappers Association is committed to ongoing educational efforts across the state in cooperation with other outdoor groups. Each year, we host numerous dog-release events, publish a quarterly magazine and participate in many public forums. Traps and snares can be opened and dogs safely released with some hands-on training at these events. We realize even one incident can give a trappers a “black eye” and stress the importance of ethics and good judgement at every opportunity.
Trapping remains a safe and effective wildlife management tool across the state and provides an incredible and time-honored outdoor experience. Further, trappers are staunch advocates for Idaho’s backcountry and wild, open places. There is room for everyone to share these places and enjoy the outdoors. If you have questions or concerns or are interested in learning more about what is actually involved in trapping, please feel free to contact me or any of our directors at the contact info listed on our website.
Rusty Kramer, a resident of Fairfield, is president of the Idaho Trappers Association and a board member of the Foundation for Wildlife Management.