Beware of traps when hiking
If you enjoy exploring the open spaces adjacent to our neighborhood as well as throughout the state, watch your step, there may be traps where you are hiking, biking, horseback riding, or walking your dog. Recently one of our neighbors was out with their dogs in the Pine Nuts when one of their dogs stepped in a trap. It “was probably a steel leg hold trap, No. 2 size,” according to Game Warden Reid Varble. This size trap has a minimum jaw spread of 5 1⁄2 inches.
The pet owners were surprised to find the trap in a wash in an area they frequently ride dirt bikes or hike through. Fortunately they were able to free their dog, and he was not seriously injured. They reported the incident to Nevada’s Department of Wildlife and took Varble to the area where they found the trap, but it had been removed.
“Trappers have to apply for a license to trap fur-bearing mammals through the Department (www.ndow.org ), but the traps are no longer required to have identification numbers,” Varble explained. “They also are required to check the trap at least every four days. Visitation (checking the traps) and the use of bait (illegal) are the biggest problems we have.”
Varble, starting his 24th year with the Department of Wildlife, said that a few years ago a PhD student was following mountain lions (through attached radio transmitters). When one female stayed in one location for several days, the student got excited that the lion might be having cubs. But when the signal disappeared, they went to the last location according to the tracking system and found a trap with only the lion’s foot left in it. Their search of the area found the lion dead from her injuries.
According to the 2011 Hunt Guide found on the website, all steel leg hold traps (size 2 and larger) must have permanently attached spacers of some type in the frame to keep the trap opening to a minimum of 3/16 inch. This space would allow a bird of prey to escape should it inadvertently get caught in one of the traps. It is illegal to trap birds of prey or mountain lions.
The season for the red fox runs from Oct. 1 through Feb. 29 while the season for the gray fox and bobcat runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 29. The licenses are only available to Nevada residents. Coyotes are unprotected so can be hunted all year, but a trapping license is required to use any type of trap. Most are being hunted for their pelts, which can be sold for export to countries that still wear fur.
While most experienced trappers set their traps in remote areas to minimize inadvertently trapping a dog or other domestic animal, we need to be aware of the possibility of coming across a trap while enjoying a hike. Keep your eyes open and it might be a good idea to carry a few small tools or heavy gloves to release your pet if it should get caught in a trap.
Have a Ramblin good week.