Witness to Tragedy

Traps in the Willow Creek State Recreation Area

From: Steve Charles
Willow, Alaska
December, 2014

“I was running my sled dogs on the Lucky Shot Trail in Willow and came out on to the unplowed portion of the Willow Creek Parkway near the intersection of the Parkway and Crystal Lake Rd. There is a small plowed section which makes for good parking for people to walk or ski down the Parkway to the Willow Creek Campground and the Susitna River. As I came out onto the Parkway, I was met by two loose dogs and a couple of people near their truck. While returning from the campground, I was met by the same two women who were directly on the trail in front of me, pulling a large bag and were very upset. Trying to hold my dog team and to listen them, I quickly learned they had a dog caught in a conibear trap and wanted to know if I knew how to release the trap. I told them I didn’t know and that I will return in 30 minutes after I get my dogs back home. When I returned they had left. I followed their tracks approximately 150′ down the unplowed portion and saw where they dragged the bag with their dog. Their tracks left the road to the east and went about 100′ into the woods where I saw where the trap was set and cut beef on the snow for bait.

I reported this to State Park Rangers who took the trap for the owner to pick up. There was no sign of who the trapper was or any king of warning. Since then, the dog owners have put up extensive signs and pictures in the area warning of trapping in the area. About a week later I encountered another person who had a dog caught in a snare in the same area. Fortunately, the owner was on it immediately and no harm was done.

I would like to see State Park regulations changed in regard to trapping. Currently, there is no trapping within 100′ of a “facility” within a Sate Park, which means campgrounds.

Please go to your area State Park Citizen’s Advisory Board and ask for a letter or resolution (propose one yourself) to the State Parks Director, Ben Ellis for a change in trapping regulations within State Park and Recreation Areas. I think a setback of 300′ from facilities, roads and trails is reasonable, with an appropriate, well posted warning near the traps.”