The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Ignores Complaints by People whose Pets have been Caught in Traps
The MDIFW continues to support the status quo…
By guest blogger Val Philbrick
There is an online petition with almost 50,000 signatures that seeks to change trapping laws in Maine to prevent the accidental injury or death of dogs hiking with their owners along a trail. The petition was started by Anna Mosca whose dog, Star, was caught in a trap last November 9, while walking with her on a trail in Denmark, Maine.
According to a Letter to the Editor by Ms. Mosca published on November 18, 2015, in The Conway Daily Sun at www.conwaydailysun.com/opinion/letters/123396-anna-n-mosca-change-trapping-laws-1117:
“Below is a modified letter I have sent to my state representative, senator, governor, and the Maine Veterinary Medical Association. On Nov. 9, my dog Star was caught in a leg hold trap, with teeth, while walking on a multipurpose trail in Denmark, Maine. The trap was not tagged according to law, though there was a small handwritten sign approximately 15-20 feet prior to the trap stating that the area was being used to trap animals. By the time we had come upon the sign, it was too late, and Star was caught. She suffered agonizing pain and damaged her teeth when she tried to bite her way free, resulting in $630 worth of emergency veterinary services, with more expenses to come in order to correct further damage to the back of her mouth and prevent infection. Moreover, my friend, Susan Eland, who was walking Star at the time, was bitten by my dog while we tried to free her from the trap, which resulted in an emergency room visit and six stitches. I contacted the two wardens and was informed that no laws were broken or violated in regards to trapping.
“I am writing not to ask that trapping be stopped or banned but that trappers be required to place signage at least 100 yards prior to where they have placed traps along multiuse trails, preferably at the beginning of trails that have traps, and that traps be placed at least 15 feet off the side of any trail. This law should apply to all trapping devices used on properties not specifically signed private. With advance warning, we never would have continued to go hiking on this trail. Also, keeping traps off of trails also ensures that people and children are unlikely to step in them. I am currently seeking sponsors for such a bill.
“I have spoken to many dog owners, and only a handful were aware that trappers are not required to post any type of signage on trails that are trapped. I also know this is an ongoing and growing problem, as the list of pet owners coming forward with their own stories of having their beloved pets caught in leg clamp traps grows daily. I have also been told by several veterinarians that this is not an uncommon occurrence.”
A search of Maine trapping laws reveals that traps must be labeled with the trapper’s name and address, but there does not appear to be a mandated set distance of a trap from a trail. In the Land of Oz, where most of the MDIFW officials live, traps are checked regularly and fur-bearing animals caught in traps die instantly with only targeted animals caught. However, in the real word where most of us live, we know that fur-bearing animals languish in traps for hours or even days, often freezing to death. Many incidental animals, such as dogs and cats, are caught in traps which are often very close to public trails. Animals suffer horribly in traps for no other reason than to satisfy the trapper’s desire to kill something as most of these unfortunate creatures are not used for food, except possibly to be eaten by another passing animal. It has been said that some people cannot live unless something dies. Beaver anal secretions are reportedly used as raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla flavoring in food, but we need to challenge the food industry about this as the vast majority of people would prefer that flavoring comes from real fruit not beaver anal glands. Some of the pelts may be sold to China so that country can continue its illegal practice of labeling dog, cat, and other small animal fur used to line winter jackets sold around the world as faux fur. Camp North Woods run by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife seeks to indoctrinate and desensitize children, age 8 to 12 years, to the horrors of trapping so the MDIFW can continue to benefit from the revenue generated from adult trapper license fees. Under current law, children under 10 years of age are allowed to trap all legal species in Maine, except bear, without a license, but must be accompanied at all times by an adult supervisor.
There is a group on Facebook, Mainers for Posted Traps, which is reaching out to Governor LePage and other elected officials in Maine to get a law passed that will require that traps be set a reasonable distance from a public trail. Critics of the proposed bill have suggested that dogs remain on a leash while walking in the woods. Dogs and children should be able to walk alongside an adult without stepping into a trap set a short distance from a trail. It seems that the rights of trappers in Maine are more important than the rights of the general public, their pets and their children. There is nothing unreasonable about common sense regulations with regard to trapping and the placement of traps a safe distance from a trail, but time after time, we have seen the IF&W legislative steering committee quickly shut down any meaningful discussion on bills designed to help animals so that none of them ever make it to the legislative floor where they could be publicly debated with input from the public and their elected officials.
For more information or to sign the petition, please click on the following link:https://www.change.org/p/governor-paul-le-page-require-stricter-safety-measures-for-trappers?recruiter=1854358.
Find your elected officials at www.maine.gov or click on the following link: http://www.maine.gov/portal/government/officials.html.
—Val Philbrick is a local writer, talk show host, and animal advocate.
Note: For more about trapping, see http://loprieno.bangordailynews.com/2015/07/18/home/ever-feel-trapped-2/