Friday, March 13, 2009

Traps and dogs don't mix

Most urban and rural areas of Idaho are known as dog-friendly, with trails and woodland areas ideal for hiking the family pooch.

But not so friendly are the animal traps placed in the hope of catching an animal whose fur can fetch income on the pelt market.

Distressing episodes of unwary pet dogs being caught in the claws of leg-hold traps are on the increase.

It's the consequence of clashes between urban growth and the untamed outdoors.

To its credit, the 1,100-member Idaho Trappers Association acknowledges the clash between trappers and dogs and has taken the initiative in asking trappers to avoid setting their devices in known recreation areas. It also has posted instructions on how pets can be freed from traps if the unfortunate occurs.

However, more should and can be done. The Idaho Fish & Game Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management could join with trappers and map specific areas as off limits for traps.

Information signs about the off-limits areas would serve to prevent trappers from setting their snares in specific areas and inform hikers with dogs which areas are trap-free and which are not.

Preventing clashes between wildlife and urban populations is not new. When bears are found roaming urban areas, for example, they are caught and removed to avoid unfortunate encounters with humans.

Humane protection of pet dogs from randomly set traps near populated and recreational areas is a sensible solution that trappers and public agencies concerned about the outdoors should eagerly undertake.

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