Historically, trappers and pet owners haven’t always had pleasant interactions, but organizers of a meeting this evening titled “Sharing Juneau’s Trails” are trying to put those feelings in the past.
The workshop, according to Ryan Scott, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is all about helping users co-exist on Juneau’s trail system. There was no instance that spurred the workshop, no grand complaints coming from one side or the other, but with trapping season now mostly open as of Nov. 1, Scott said it’s important to educate all trail users on how to recreate safely, both for themselves and for their canine companions.
“The intent is for all of us to learn something about how we use the trail system around Juneau and to get those user groups in the same room, at least have that conversation,” Scott said. “We want people to feel like they are part of the process.”
The event, which is hosted by the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the center and will be presented by the ADF&G, Alaska Frontier Trappers Association, Alaska Trappers Association and the U.S. Forest Service.
Attendees will be able to view a video on “Sharing Alaska’s Trails,” learn what signs to look for in the woods that may indicate traps or snares have been set nearby, see examples of traps, as well as meet and talk with local trappers. There will also be instruction on how to release a pet that has been caught in a trap, though such incidents are rare.
Laurie Craig, the lead naturalist at the visitor center, said in an email this week that she attended a similar workshop held a few years ago.
“As a dog owner, I found the information very helpful and enlightening,” she said. “The trappers were excellent teachers (and) I appreciated their efforts to educate me as a dog owner.”
Scott said now is the time to raise awareness and foster successful coexistence.
“In Juneau we don’t have a lot of trappers, but we have enough and it’s a neat group of people,” he said. “We can all learn a little something and be better for it.”