Trapping season is upon us, and dog owners sometimes worry that pets might be caught in traps. This is highly unlikely in the Juneau area, but a few precautions can ensure the safety of even off-leash dogs on backcountry trails.
Dog walkers can stick to areas closed to trapping, which includes much of the Juneau area and all the popular dog walking trails near town.
The Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, which includes the Dike Trail popular with dog-walkers, is off-limits to trapping, as is essentially the entire Mendenhall Valley and all the trails associated with the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. The area within ¼ mile of Auke Lake is closed.
Trapping is closed within ½ mile of all public and private streets and highways in the city and borough. Trapping is closed within ¼ mile of the coastline from the end of Thane Road to Echo Cove. A similar coastal strip is closed on Douglas Island - all the coastline along the length of the Douglas Highway, and extending ½ mile past the end of the road, which includes most of Peterson Creek.
All trappers must mark their traps with their names, or place a sign near their traps with their identifying information.
Marten are the most sought after furbearers in Alaska, and the fur is known as sable. These cat-like weasels are trapped in Southeast, but the sets are unlikely to catch dogs, unless those dogs climb trees. This is because last fall the state Board of Game allowed trapping near the trails listed below, but traps must be set 5 feet above the ground (or snow level), and they must be at least 50 yards off the trail. Only traps with a spread of 5 inches or less are allowed.
Although these types of sets are permitted, all other forms of trapping are prohibited within ¼ mile of the following trails: Herbert Glacier Trail, Windfall Lake Trail, Peterson Lake Trail, Spaulding Meadows Trail, Nugget Creek Trail, Outer Point Trail, Dan Moller Trail, Perseverance Trail, Granite Creek Trail, Mt. Roberts Trail, Sheep Creek Trail, Amalga/John Muir trail, Eagle Glacier trail, Point Bridget Trail, Salmon Creek Trail and Point Bishop Trail.
Marten season runs Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, as does the season for mink, river otter, weasels, coyote and muskrat. Beaver and wolves may be trapped until mid-May and late April, respectively.
Detailed information is available for dog owners who would like to learn more. The Alaska Trappers Association has produced a 30-minute video, "Sharing Alaska's Trails," to help dog owners better understand traps and trapping. It's not intended to promote trapping, just inform. Googling the words, "sharing Alaska's trails ADF&G video," provides a link to an article about the video, as well as the video itself on the ADF&G multimedia library site, at www.multimedia.adfg.alaska.gov/. The video can be viewed there for free.
The video highlights signs that a dog walker might see near a trap line, such as a bird wing fluttering from a pole, survey tape or flagging and bait. It also covers different types of traps and snares and how to release dogs from traps.
For a copy of the state of Alaska Trapping Regulations, go to www.wildlife.alaska.gov/regulations/pdfs/trapping.pdf or you can get one at ADF&G or vendors here in town.
Riley Woodford produces the Sounds Wild radio program and edits Alaska Fish and Wildlife News for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.