Oshie

From: Larry Turner
Big Lake, Alaska

Oshie

Oshie

“A nice winter Sunday in Big Lake and my wife and I decided to take our two dogs for a walk. We parked off Hollywood and started down a local MEA powerline easement trail close to our home. Being on an active Trapline was furthest from our mind. There was no signage, no markings. As far as I knew this was just a trail. Then without warning, Oshie, our 10 month old lab mix, screams out in pain and fear. As I approached I saw she had been caught in a foothold trap placed directly on the edge of the trail. I screamed as I fell on her and tried to hold her leg from pulling against the trap. I could see blood in the snow. I had my wife hold Oshie down while I pushed the release and set her foot free. I was relieved to see that she was released uninjured but then became enraged that someone laid a trap along a trail so close to people’s homes. I could not understand the mentality of someone so uncaring and with no regard for the public and their animals.

Middle of nowhere? [click to enlarge]

Middle of nowhere? [click to enlarge]

When we got home I researched “Trapping in Alaska” and located the Alaska Trapping Association website. They have a video titled “Sharing the Trails” in which they try to inform the public about Trapping and awareness of traps on trails. But in the first few sentences, former ATA president Pete Buist manages to offend the dog owner implying that they are “irresponsible lower life forms” for allowing their pet to get caught in a trap. I then went to the ADFG trapping webpage and lo and behold they were quoting the same ATA offensive language on their website too! I wanted to file an incident report (because if it is not reported and documented it’s like it never happened.) So I went into the Anchorage Fish and Game office. They said they had no way of handling a report. In fact, they seemed like they did not want to hear about it at all. I was a little surprised by that because you would think they would want to know, it is their job to regulate trapping after all. I finally was put in contact with the Palmer area biologist Todd Rinaldi and he was receptive to my concerns. He gave me his direct line and said he would encourage anyone who’s pet is caught in a trap to contact him directly. I gave his information to my vet so they could post it and keep it on file. I also directed Todd to the ADFG webpage where the offensive quote was located. (I have since seen that it has been removed. Thank you for that Todd.) To anyone who has concerns about Trapping and dogs, or has had an incident with a dog caught in a trap, please contact Todd Rinaldi ADFG Area Biologist at 746-6325.

Needless to say we don’t walk that area any longer. And we are avoiding large swathes of public use areas altogether. We seem to be held hostage by the Trappers. They are becoming like domestic terrorists in this regard. Where is it safe to walk our dogs? Is Hatchers Pass safe? How about the park by the lake? Just this weekend when we were walking our dogs at Matanuska Lake near Palmer, we came upon posted signs warning of trapping. I don’t understand why someone would trap there. Apparently there are no restrictions even in parkland in the Mat Su Borough.

I would like to see these regulations put in place:

1. No trapping in any City/State/Federal parkland unless specifically permitted and posted by ADFG

2. Trappers be required to post signage with permit number, contact info, etc. (at trailhead, trail crossings, and certain distance along trapline) to notify public when active trapping is in progress. Signage is to be dated. Signage removed when trapline is no longer in use.

3. Individual trap/snare locations be required to be identified with signage or flagging.

4. All traps/snares be required to have permit number, contact info attached.

5. A requirement that the Trapper can be held liable for any animal caught in trap, especially non-target species. This includes payment of vet bills for someone’s pet, or criminal charges like for a protected species like Bald Eagle.

6. An ADFG operated hotline put in place for reporting Trapping violations and incidents, and public access to those reports online.”