Trapping season has officially begun in Alaska. The recent trapping case in Juneau, involving a hiker releasing a bald eagle and springing other traps to protect her dogs and hikers, sparked quite the debate over the struggle of trappers versus hikers, their pets and wildlife. It is certainly a complicated issue, and there is no easy way to solve it. The good thing about this case, though, is that issues surrounding trapping are getting exposure and opening up a community-wide discussion on how to better balance the conflict.
One way of getting involved in this issue, regardless of what side of the coin you may sit on, is to offer feedback to those who decide the rules and regulations in regard to trapping, the Alaska Board of Game (BoG). Next March, the BoG is meeting to discuss the 2016 statewide proposals submitted by people from all over Alaska. I, along with another Juneau resident, Pat O’Brien, have submitted two proposals on trapping. Our proposals are numbers 79 and 80.
Proposal 79 (page 65) proposes a 24-hour check requirement for traps and snares. Currently, there is no set time limit, except for a very small portion of Alaska. Many states already require a 24-hour check or once every calendar day. Our proposal does allow for a longer time frame in the event of documented severe weather. Animals are not always instantly killed when trapped. Providing a statewide time check would reduce suffering and better ensure hides are not ruined by other animals feeding on the trapped animal.
Proposal 80 (page 66) asks for statewide movement of traps and snares from populated areas with populations of 1,000 or more, unless a more restrictive city ordinance is already in place. It would require traps and snares to be 200 feet from an established trail, ¼ mile away from publicly maintained roads and 1 mile away from schools, businesses, homes, developed campground or recreational facilities. It does allow for traps and snares within 1 mile for cabins on the opposite side of a major river system, or owned by a trapper for use as a trapping cabin.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulation booklet for trapping, page 6, contains this advice: Act responsibly as a trapper and conservationist by trapping in ways to minimize conflict between trapping and other users, e.g. avoid high recreational use areas. Avoid situations where you might catch a domestic dog or cat, such as near homes, or trails frequently used by hikers, skijorers, dog mushers, or other people.” This proposal asks for these guidelines to be upheld by statewide regulations and enforcement, rather than suggested advice. It offers increased safety for people, pets and domestic animals statewide.
Two other trapping proposals are also available in the proposal book: Proposal 78 (page 64) proposes removing all requirements for identification tags on traps and snares, and Proposal 81 (page 68) proposes defining the term “underwater” for the purposes of allowing furbearers to be harvested with underwater traps or snares.
The proposal book is available online here: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.proposalbook
The website allows you the opportunity to submit written comments online any time before the deadline (usually two weeks before the meeting, March 4, 2016). You may also attend your local BoG Advisory Committee meetings to comment on proposed regulations.
It is helpful to read the introductory section of the proposal book which offers instruction for written comments.
Here’s the contact information for written comments:
• Online: www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov
• Fax: 907-465-6094
• Mail: ATTN: Board of Game Comments, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 115526 Juneau, AK 99811-5526.
This is your opportunity to get involved and have your voice heard. Proposals 79 and 80 offer reasonable regulations to safeguard people and pets, as well as reducing wildlife suffering. I hope you will consider them.
• Michelle Anderson is a Juneau resident.