When a pet gets caught in a trap and you release it, it’s possible you could be committing a crime.
Environmental groups want the legislature to redefine the term ‘tampering’ so they can save their pets.
Wyoming Untrapped Programs Director Kristin Combs explained, “Currently the language in the law states that it is illegal to tamper with a trap, and it’s not defined clearly that a person that was releasing their dog or cat from a trap would not be charged civilly or criminally.”
Trappers say there’s no reason to fear releasing a pet.
National Trappers Association program manager Tom Krause said, “Nobody has ever been prosecuted or would ever be prosecuted for releasing a pet from a trap. I mean that’s ridiculous.”
Environmental groups also want more documentation of pets being caught.
Combs stated, “It’s just happening a lot, and there’s just no required reporting. So people are not sure how often it’s really happening, and that’s what we’re trying to get at. Where is it happening, where can I recreate safely with my dog? We just have no way of knowing right now.”
That request was denied, but trappers say it’s part of a deeper goal.
“Those who are opposed to trapping see it as a first step to taking away our rights and privileges to hunt, trap and fish,” Krause said, “and so the line has to be drawn somewhere. We’re going to draw it right where it belongs.”
They also say pet owners need to be more responsible for their animals.
Krause stated, “Trappers tend to catch the animals that are out there roaming around freely, and if there are pets or something wandering around out in the wildlands where they ought not to be, they’re susceptible to being caught in a trap.”
Combs says the issue of pets in traps escalated after three Casper St. Bernards were killed.
“I think that’s probably something that brought it to the public’s awareness that this is occurring in the states. Like I said, a lot of times it goes unreported so people don’t know about it,” said Combs.
Both sides do agree if you see a trapped pet, the right thing to do is release it.
Trappers hope redefining the term ‘tampering’ won’t give people a loophole to go out and release any animal they have legally trapped.