The big barrel on wheels modified to catch errant bears isn’t really a steel trap under Nevada law, an Incline Village justice of the Peace ruled on Monday.
A mother and daughter were convicted of interfering with the trap, which was set on private property to catch an Incline Village bear raiding homes.
According to a ruling issued by Incline Justice of the Peace Alan Tiras, the Nevada Department of Wildlife bear trap does not qualify as a steel trap under the state’s trapping law.
At an April 23, trial defense attorneys for Season Marie and Cheryl Ann Morrison tried to claim that the trap was illegal and that their clients therefore didn’t violate the law by springing it.
The Morrisons were convicted of obstructing an officer and tampering with a vehicle.
According to court documents, the trap was set on Fairview Boulevard in Incline Village by Nevada Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey on Oct. 9. That same day it appeared that the trap had been sprung.
The Morrisons claimed that because the trap was within 200 feet of a public highway it was OK to tamper with it.
They argued that any trap made of steel was a steel trap, and therefore affected by the law.
Tiras said that the law specifies a leghold trap, which is very different than the traps used to catch bears.
While not addressed by Tiras in his ruling, the law also allows traps on private property within 200 feet of a roadway with the permission of the owner, which Lackey had.
Barring an appeal, the Morrisons are scheduled to appear for sentencing on the two misdemeanors by June 12.
In October 2013, state wardens caught 15 bears. Fourteen of those bears were released using aversion conditioning techniques.