Snaring Clinic Stresses Ethics and Techniques

KENAI REFUGE: Class is required for those who trap on federal lands.

Joseph Robertia / Peninsula Clarion / Anchorage Daily News / December 28, 2003

KENAI -- A snaring seminar was offered last week at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, but contrary to what many people may think, most of the course focused on how not to, and where not to catch animals, as opposed to the other way around.
"We're teaching people the proper snare techniques for avoiding nontarget species, like moose, dogs, eagles and other incidental catches," said the seminar facilitator Gary Titus, a longtime proponent of trapping.

The course was a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirement for those interested in trapping on federal lands.

"The seminar is just another method of educating people," said Titus. "We emphasize laws and regulations, ethics and methods."

The course focused intensively on trapping humanely and snare-setting techniques to reduce the possibility of incidental catches, but also on some of the hardware -- such as break away snares -- that can be used to release nontarget species like moose.

"The only exposure some people, nontrappers, get to trapping is when a moose with a snare on it hits the news," said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game, and himself a recreational trapper. He explained this can be very damaging because the general public then views trapping in a bad light.

"That's why it's important to make trappers more informed and better educated in any way we can," said Lewis. "It's then the trapper's responsibility to trap safely, responsibly and ethically."

Lewis added, "There is also a positive side of trapping that is rarely shown." He explained that predators, like any other species, must also be managed. "Trapping is an effective management tool," he said.

One example of this he described often takes place within residential areas. Coyotes can move in and begin preying on pets or, in extreme cases, children. Unlike bears, it is not policy to relocate coyotes.

Shooting the animals in residential areas is not an option. Poisoning is both illegal and not selective enough and can indiscriminately lead to the deaths of many other species of wildlife, as well as pets.

Trapping is both safer for nontarget species and highly effective. It also provides a way to dispatch the animal in a manner that allows its carcass to not go to waste but rather be used in a variety of ways.

Craig Lott, one of the instructors at the seminar and the chairman of the Kenai Trapper's Association, was of a similar mind-set to Lewis in regard to trapping.

"Many people that are opposed to trapping are uninformed, or have formed an opinion without learning the facts," said Lott. "Trapping is a belief that people have. Everything is getting so commercialized, but trapping is a way to get away from the urban setting and escape back to a subsistence lifestyle."

Which is why Lott said he believes it's important to hold classes like Saturday's snaring seminar.

"It reduces conflict with other user groups," said Lott, in regard to the class's emphasis on trapping away from areas where problems could arise with nontrappers. "We all should be able to enjoy the outdoors, whether you ski, snowmachine, trap, whatever."

Not everyone at the seminar was in favor of trapping.

"I'm the type of person who feeds animals, not traps or kills them," said Linda Estes of Sterling. Unlike many people opposed to trapping who don't take the time to learn about it, Estes was there to get the facts.

She said attending the course hadn't changed how she felt about trapping, but she did learn a lot she didn't know.

"I wasn't aware that the people teaching about trapping were trying to do as good a job as they are, focusing on trappers being educated and responsible," said Estes.

Distributed by The Associated Press

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