This is a video excerpt of the 3/9/2015 MN Senate hearing of the wolf-trapping and snaring regulation bill SF 0592: no recreational wolf trapping, snaring, electronic calling, prey-distress calling, or hunting over bait; gross misdemeanor penalty for wolf poaching; no recreational snaring. Almost all of the debate is about snaring. Proponents focus on the potential for the effective and humane uses of snares in research, predator control, and the fur trade. Critics focus on the suffering of animals in snares.
MN Senate Subcommittee on Fish and Wildlife, Committee on Environment and Energy, 3/9/2015.
It includes testimony from Maureen Hackett of Howling for Wolves, Gary Leistico of the MN Trappers Association, and Dan Stark and John Erb of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR).
00:02 Senator Matt Schmit, Chairman of the Subcommittee, opens the hearing of SF 592.
00:40 Dr. Maureen Hackett, President and Founder of Howling for Wolves, supports the bill. This bill addresses recreational trapping, snaring, and baiting--not government programs of depredation control. Non-target catches by snares are high, for example in situations where a bait pile is made and the area around it is saturated with snares. Snaring is an indiscriminate method that catches not only the intended, target animals, but also many non-target animals (ref. to a statement by Carter Niemeyer to that effect). Jellyhead is one of the horribly-painful injuries that can be caused by snares. Snares can become embedded in animals skin (ref. to letter from Peggy Farr, veterinarian and wildlife rehabilitator). Wildlife belongs to all of us. Non-target catches amplify the take of wildlife far beyond the intended targets. In a Lake Research Partners poll, 66% of respondents were opposed to the use of traps and snares for wolves, and even more were opposed to baiting and calling.
06:12 Mr. Gary Leistico, MN Trappers Association (MTA), opposes the bill. MTA members have been lawfully and ethically trapping and snaring in Minnesota since the State was established. Wolf trapping is no different from the trapping of other animals. Modern snaring is improved over the old technology, with its use of aircraft cable and other components including stops, springs, and swivels. Snares operate better than foothold traps in MN winters. Snares are used in depredation-control trapping. He's not aware of statistics on non-target catches by snares. The selectivity of a snare depends on how and where it's set. Snares can be as selective as foothold traps. In his own trapping and snaring, there's almost no incidental catch. He's not aware of any MN incidents of "jellyhead." He's read about it, but hasn't witnessed it. The MN DNR has been recording incidents in which dogs have been caught in traps, but he hasn't seen an incident of a dog killed by a snare in those records.
08:45 Mr. Ray Sogard, MN Forest-Zone Trappers Association (MFZTA), opposes the bill. Predator control also controls the spread of disease, including mange. Humans can also suffer from mange. This is one of the services provided to society by trappers. Snares can be set selectively. Moose stops and breakaways are required on snares that are set for wolves. Snares can be constructed and set with lethal and non-lethal options. Snares are impervious to MN winter weather. Snares cause little or no damage to domestic animals that are caught incidentally, or to wild animals that are captured for research. Snare best-management practices (BMP) have been developed based on snare studies in states including WI, TN, etc. Snares provide an affordable opportunity for young trappers to get started in trapping on a low budget. Trapping is a 400 year-old tradition that the MFZTA promotes for all of its members.
11:40 Senator Chris Eaton asks the MTA and MFZTA testifiers to provide references to the snare studies they've mentioned, and to support their statements that snares can be used humanely and safely.
12:08 Mr. Thom Peterson, MN Farmers Union, opposes the bill, supports the wolf hunting & trapping season as it is. He's concerned about controlling livestock depredation by wolves, and about providing funding for wolf-depredation compensation payments to farmers from wolf-hunting and trapping license fees.
12:53 Mr. Cory Bennett, MN Deer Hunters Association (MDHA), opposes the bill, supports the MN Wolf Management Plan, including trapping as part of the Plan.
13:17 Maureen Hackett returns to the testimony table to add information. Twenty U.S. States have effectively eliminated snaring. She had not presented the graphic examples she has of injuries caused by snares to dogs, wolves, even moose. MN DNR records on incidental trapping are incomplete; animals die unrecorded. The wolf-hunting firearms season would have been sufficient to meet the State's harvest quotas, without adding the wolf-trapping season. The wolf-trapping season was indiscriminate and harmful. You've heard it said by the trapping associations: snaring is cheaper, easier, you don't need a professional, the young guys can do it, anybody can snare. Anybody can go out and set thousands of snares, kill thousands of animals--and in the process, many thousands will go unknown. These animals belong to the public. In setting wildlife policies, we need to consider the public interest, not just the interests of those individuals who want to "take" those animals by hunting and trapping. We need to question "how many [non-target] animals does it take to get those [target] animals by trapping?"
15:03 Mr. Bob Meier, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR), opposes the bill. He introduces John Erb and Dan Stark.
15:25 Mr. Dan Stark, Large Carnivore Specialist, MN DNR, opposes the bill. The MN wolf-hunting and wolf-trapping season is the most highly-regulated of all the State's hunting and trapping seasons. Regulations include limits on number of licenses, number of hunters, timeframe, and harvest target. Trapping is the most efficient method of capturing or killing wolves. Capture is used in research, for example to radio-collar wolves in order to track their movements. Baiting and calling of wolves is necessary to boost success in the recreational hunting seasons; these methods are now recognized by the MN DNR as "fair chase" methods of hunting.
17:20 Dr. John Erb, Furbearer and Wolf Research Biologist, MN DNR, Grand Rapids, opposes the bill. Although snares are relatively simple devices, there are a number of components to them that allow diverse uses--both for live restraint and for killing. Snares and cable restraints are used in research on foxes, coyotes, raccoons, beavers, wolves. National Trap Research Program has tested and certified "many forms of snares for live-restraining animals" [for information to the contrary, see the note above about the limitations of published AFWA BMP testing of traps and snares on wolves]. Most of the devices that were tested met the standards [he doesn't say what those standards were: again, please refer to the note about the AFWA BMPs above]. Subject animals were fully examined by necropsy by veterinarians following testing. There's a significant amount of data on the use of live restraints. Less information is available for killing snares. "A snare is not a snare:" there's a lot of diversity in how they can be used. Snares can be set selectively, depending on which options are used, including options for live-restraint and for killing. MN trapping regulations require daily trap checking for restraining-type traps, 3-day check for killing-type traps or drowning sets.
19:51 Sen. Eaton comments that, although she understands that it's legal and effective to snare and trap animals, she questions whether it's ethical. She challenges the distinction between how we, as a society, treat our domestic pets vs. how we treat our wildlife.
20:20 Sen. Wiger reminds the subcommittee that the bill would not affect the MN Predator Control Program or the wildlife-removal operations that are allowed under it.
21:07 John Erb reiterates that the bill would prevent the use of snares by private trappers, even those who operate their snares humanely and selectively.
21:41 Mr. Jeffrey Wiles, resident of Coon Rapids, MN, supports the bill. He specifies that his comment is limited to the practice of recreational snaring. He emphasizes the quote on the Howling for Wolves fact sheet from Carter Niemeyer about the danger and lack of selectivity of snares. He notes that those dangers are a concern both for pets and wildlife.
22:23 Sen. Schmit concludes the hearing of SF 592. The bill will be laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus Game & Fish Bill, SF 1303.
22:33 End of video excerpt.
AFWA. 2007. "Best Management Practices (BMP) for Trapping in the United States." Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).
AFWA. 2014. "BMPs for Trapping Wolves in the U.S." Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.
Austin, Phyllis. 2003. "Maine IF&W Biologist Critical of Coyote Snaring, Slated for Demotion." Maine Environmental News. March 11.
Orrick, Dave. 2012. "Will Minnesota's New Trapping Rules Mean Fewer Dog Deaths?" Pioneer Press, October 20.
Smith, Doug. 2013. "Number of Dogs Killed by Traps Concerns Owners." Star Tribune, January 15.
Williams, Ted. 2002. "Maine's War on Coyotes." Audubon. September 1.