The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is considering changes to laws and regulations surrounding trapping. This comes after some encounters that members of the public and pets have had with traps near public areas. Some want trapping near trails banned, and others say pets should always be leashed. A working group has looked into solutions. Lander Region Wildlife Supervisor Jason Hunter spoke with Bob Beck to discuss what they are proposing.
Jason Hunter: I think, you know, just like you said here's two extremes. But I think there's a lot of room in the middle as with most things. And so I hope to come up with some things everyone can somewhat agree on or generally support or see the benefit in. And some of those things, you know, are as simple as education. You know, we've we're looking at potentially mandatory trapper education that's going to come up as a discussion topic. We're also looking at education for public land users in general. So they know, trapping does occur on the landscape. And you know, maybe these are some things you need to look for or these times a year. You know, trapping may be more prevalent. How to release pets from a trap if it does happen, those are some of the things we're looking at, as well as things like signage and some kind of a link on a sign that'll allow people to go to our website and get more information. We also want to look at some of our properties that are conditional and properties that we released pheasants on. For example, maybe it's appropriate to have trapping closures during certain times of the year.
Maybe not all types of traps, like there are a number of people that are after raccoons, so they use the traps that pretty much only raccoons are going to put their hand into. So that's not going to affect those pheasant hunters using dogs out there. So those are things that I hope come up in the conversation and things we can look at. Some other things that we're going to talk about are setbacks on trails, trailheads and camping areas. So basically, that's a distance away from a trail that an individual could place the trap. We've heard a lot of reports that there are a number of trappers that trap right on public trails. I haven't experienced that much, but again, it's something that we'll talk about. And so what we're throwing out as a starting point is what public trails that are, we'll have to come up with a definition there. But 30 feet from public trails and then I think 300 feet from campgrounds, trail heads, busy places like that.
Bob Beck: Jason, can you enforce these or will these just be recommendations?
JH: So right now, we have in place there are laws and regulations in place about checking traps. There are laws and regulations about trap types and specifications for snares specifically for loop size. Every trap has to have a trapper I.D. on it. All of those things we can enforce whether it's for bear or predatory, whether it's private land or public land. So these recommendations would require a statutory change. So we would have to work with the legislature on that before we could implement those into commission regulation.
BB: Has the [Game and Fish] Commission come around on this? Because I know the issue has been around and they've just flat out rejected some of these things. What's changed their mind?
JH: I don't know that it's changing their mind. I think it's more that they didn't have a lot of information on what was going on with trapping and so rather than jumping to conclusions one way or the other, they asked us to put this committee together and look at the history of the statutes and regulations, contact a broad group of stakeholders, and move forward this way so they can be better informed.
BB: So Jason, tell me about these public hearings, where are they going to be and how can people access them?
JH: On September 1, we'll be in Rock Springs at the White Mountain Library, and then the next evening, we'll travel to Jackson at the Wort Hotel. And then on the third day we'll head up to Sheridan Best Western. And those will all be an in-person meetings. All the meetings will start at 6 p.m. The following week, we will head over to Laramie, and we'll have a meeting on September 9 at our Game and Fish Regional Office. We will have an in-person meeting and a virtual option that we will ask people to pre-register for.
We'll finish up at The Inn in Lander in the Wind River Room. And again, that'll be an in person meeting as well as a virtual option that people will have to sign up for. So we're offering two virtual options to hopefully capture as many people in the state being able to participate as who want to. Sign up information can be found on the Lander Game and Fish website.
Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at firstname.lastname@example.org.