This topic has started a firestorm of discussion between residents, pet advocates and professional trappers who met this week to discuss the repercussions with a small committee of Nevada Department of Wildlife officials. However, as vocal as some people became during Wednesday’s discussion in Reno, the second of two meetings about the subject, a final decision won’t be discussed until February or March of next year.
Under a current proposal, trappers would be banned from setting leg-snaring mechanisms within 1,000 feet of any residence in Washoe or Clark counties. Inside that distance, only box or cage traps that do not injure animals could be used.
In this year’s session of the Nevada Legislature, a measure setting a minimum distance on leg traps was gutted and replaced with language directing wildlife officials to create regulations on the activity.
The bill was put in place for safety reasons, intended to keep predators away from homes animals.
The 1,000-feet distance and the fact that the trap can be hidden from view has caused some pet owners to endure painful accidents.
Jana Menard of South Lake Tahoe and Markleville, Calif., said her family boards horses along Johnson Lane in Douglas County. She said her dog got caught in a trap for five minutes as it wandered through the area.
Menard said she heard a scream like no other she had ever heard. Fortunately, the pet only suffered fractures to its foot, but because the dog was frantically trying to bite its way out of the trap, the family paid $2,000 in dental bills to fix its teeth.
“It was horrific,” Menard said. “I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks.”
Mark Hutchinson, a representative of a company that catches critters for a living, attended the meeting as a representative for the industry.
“I’m just making sure the rules are going to work for the industry and citizens of Nevada,” he said. “There is a difference between people trapping animals and people doing this for public safety. People can already do this on their own. I would rather it not exist for the industry. We don’t need more regulations for us. We are already regulated.”
Businesses that set traps are required to acquire licenses from two agencies, he said.
“We want to make sure it won’t take away what we’re already doing,” he said.
Many in the audience agreed with Hutchinson.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen said this actually takes away from public safety. He said after being a trapper for more than 38 years, he believes in people protecting themselves.
Many ideas were tossed around, including placing boxes out instead of leg-catching devices, registering the devices, a requirement to check them every 24 hours, chemical devices, enlarging the area where trapping would be allowed and marking the traps so people walking in the area could see them.
The committee, which also held a meeting Monday in Las Vegas, is compiling public comment into a report to be given to decision makers in February or March.