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Trap Release

posted Feb 9, 2014, 6:02 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 16, 2017, 8:51 PM ]
The trap that killed Phillip.


Take a look at this device (a #160 body-gripping trap laid over its upturned cubby with bait). If you don't know all of its parts, how they operate and tangle with the soft tissues and hard teeth of your dog (fighting against the trap and you for its life), then you're not prepared for a trap release and rescue.

The trap-release instructions below (with acceptable ratings) can help you prepare to release a trap and save a dog, but (as you'll figure out once you start practicing with a reasonably-realistic simulation), the only sure thing is to avoid all areas in which these traps might be set.





Introduction
The goal of this page is to evaluate a few of the many available body-gripping trap-release instructions.

Unfortunately, 1) too many sets of instructions have been published to be evaluated here, so this is not a complete list, and 2) most of the published instructions aren't practical, so this is just a list of their failings.

The instructions that aren't practical tend to be political, and the reason there are so many is that there are so many political organization with statements to make in their own sets of instructions. 

Which of these instructions can dog owners actually learn from? The ones with good grades, or the ones that help us work out the method ourselves, through hands-on practice with various sizes of full-strength body-gripping traps, realistic dog models, and different release methods. 

If dog owners learn how to release these traps, can they count on saving their dogs? No.

The instructions with the better grades are at the top, and the worst (the fake instructions that are actually political platforms) are at the bottom.


Key to the summaries.
  • Grade: A (very good), B (good), C (not bad), D (poor), F (failed).
  • Intent of "political misdirection": in the critic's opinion, the apparent intent of the instructions is 1) to make the trap-release process seem easy, and thus 2) to make trapping regulations seem unnecessary (to protect people's dogs from lethal trapping & snaring in ways and in locations that could kill people's dogs).
  • Shortcomings: one common shortcoming that applies to all of the following instructions is that they don't simulate a live dog struggling for its life or near death in the trap. For the worst instructions, the notation "too many [shortcomings] to list" will have to suffice in the summary (but is more detailed in the critical subtitles).


James Vee
A crew of four men releases a wolf from a foothold trap by immobilizing and isolating the animal under a utility sled.

Critique:
  • Grade: A.
  • Intent: to show what "great guys" some trappers are.
  • Shortcomings: not a body-gripping trap release. No evaluation of possible trap injuries.
  • Strengths: a successful, real-life release.
  • Producer type: trapper.
  • Trap: foothold.
  • Trap set: dirt-hole set, intended to catch a wolf.
  • Object in trap: juvenile wolf (released in order to reset the trap to catch an adult wolf).
  • Release method: immobilization under utility sled.
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation:
  • Title: "Trapper releases a wolf."
  • Publisher: James Vee.
  • Video URL: https://youtu.be/yw8Gi1b2OJA
  • Date: about 10/22/2013.
  • Location: Wisconsin, USA.


Idaho Conservation League.
Idaho Conservation League body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: A- (very good, but missing some information).
  • Intent: public-service announcement (without getting into politics).
  • Shortcomings: dog's head not covered, leash threaded from clasp end, only one trap--oversized.
  • Strengths: appropriate warning of the danger of these lethal traps and the true difficulty of rescue.
  • Producer type: wildlife-conservation society.
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap (oversized).
  • Trap set: none (outdoors on the patio).
  • Object in trap: beagle-sized dog model. Relatively small compared to the oversized trap.
  • Release method: leash
  • Critic: SS-Slocum
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation


Footloose Montana

Footloose Montana body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: A- (good, but short on the danger of these situations, and long on the prospect of rescue followed by veterinary treatment).
  • Intent: public-service announcement (with a comment on the opposition to the improvement of trapping regulations).
  • Strengths: warning of the danger of the traps and the difficulty of rescuing dogs from them.
  • Shortcomings: false comfort that through rescue and veterinary treatment, you may save your dog's life.
  • Producer type: animal-protection group.
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap (oversized, and thus in some ways easier to work with than the smaller traps that are more commonly encountered by dogs).
  • Trap set: none (bare traps only, in a comfortable, indoor setting).
  • Object in trap: Sheltie-sized dog model. Relatively small compared to the oversized trap, providing an unrealistic amount of room for the rescuer to work with. Inanimate model simulates the release of an unconscious dog: easier to release, but probably too late to save. Although the presenter calls for covering the dog's head (and teeth), the actual release is not shown with the head covered the dog restrained, or the trap anchored..
  • Release method: leash
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
Citation


Wyoming Untrapped

Screenshot from the Wyoming Untrapped brochure "Trap Safety for Pet Owners."

Snapshot from the Wyoming Untrapped trap-release brochure (dog owners: take that warning in the lower-left seriously: "... a pet's survival is unlikely if caught...").

Critique
  • Grade: A- (good, but short on the danger of these situations, and long on the prospect of rescue followed by veterinary treatment).
  • Intent: public-service announcement (including important references to the need for political change).
  • Strengths: realistic warning of the danger of the traps and the difficulty of rescuing dogs from them.
  • Shortcomings: the realistic warnings are unfortunately moderated by comforting indications that rescue and veterinary treatment "may save your dog's life."
  • Producer type: animal-protection group.
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap (oversized, and thus in some ways easier to work with than the smaller traps that are more commonly encountered by dogs). Foothold release diagrams show smaller, less-powerful, easier-to-release traps (wolf-sized traps require more strength or body weight).
  • Trap set: none (illustrations only).
  • Object in trap: drawings of a dog the size of a Shiba Inu. Relatively small compared to the oversized trap, providing an unrealistic amount of room for the rescuer to work with. The dog is shown unconscious: easier to release, but probably too late to save. Although the instructions call for covering the dog's head (and biting teeth), the illustrations show a placid dog with her head uncovered and unrestrained.
  • Release method: leash
  • Critic: SS-Slocum
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation


Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Alaska Department of Fish & Game body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: B (good, but incomplete physically and politically).
  • Intent: trying to help hunters and trappers get along without trapping regulations?
  • Shortcomings: dog's head not covered, leash threaded from clasp end, only one trap--oversized.
  • Strengths: "twice around with horizontal pull" leash method. Accompanying pamphlet.
  • Producer type: trapping lobby and State Fish & Game Department.
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap (oversized).
  • Trap set: none (indoors on the floor).
  • Object in trap: beagle-sized wolf model. Unrealistically small in the oversized trap.
  • Release method: leash "twice-around with horizontal pull."
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: http://youtu.be/5z_guEO-1GA
Citation


Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game (IDFG).
Idaho Department of Fish & Game trap-avoidance video.

    Critique
    • Grade: B (presents good information, but with a political subtext: "dogs should always be leashed; trappers are not liable").
    • Intent: to help urban dog owners accommodate to trappers, while freeing trappers from any responsibility for harming or killing people's dogs.
    • Shortcomings: only helps dog owners when they have their dogs on leash.
    • Strengths: helps dog owners avoid traps.
    • Producer type: trapping lobby and State Fish & Game Department.
    • Trap: foothold and body-gripping traps in a variety of sets. One snare is pictured, but snares are not otherwise shown.
    • Trap set: several sets are shown accurately in natural settings.
    • Object in trap: none--this is a trap-avoidance video, not a trap-release video.
    • Release method: none--this is a trap-avoidance video, not a trap-release video..
    • Critic: SS-Slocum.

    Citation
    • Title: Recognizing & Avoiding Wildlife Traps while Walking your Dog.
    • Talent: Jennifer Struthers, Wildlife Biologist and model.
    • Producer: Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game.
    • Video URL: Recognizing & Avoiding Wildlife Traps while Walking your Dog
    • Host: Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game.
    • Host URL: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/
    • Date: about 1/14/2015
    • Location: Idaho, USA.


SS-Slocum
Scott Slocum's body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: B (good, but focused on complications--of intentionally-limited instructional value).
  • Intent: public-service announcement (including politics).
  • Shortcomings: model's head not covered, no close-ups to show details of the release technique.
  • Strengths: warns of complications that can interfere with or prevent rescue.
  • Producer type: dog owner.
  • Trap: Duke #160 body-gripping trap.
  • Trap set: none (indoors on the floor).
  • Object in trap: small faux rabbit model. Flattens realistically in the trap
  • Release method: leash.
  • Critic: SS-Slocum
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation
  • Title: Dogs & Traps #4 excerpt: release demo.
  • Talent: Scott Slocum.
  • Producer: self.
  • Video URL: http://youtu.be/3YQUyW6TYEo
  • Date: 3/24/2012.
  • Location: Maplewood, MN, USA.



Pioneer Press
Pioneer Press body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: C (not bad, but incomplete physically and politically).
  • Intent: trying to help hunters and trappers get along without trapping regulations?
  • Shortcomings: dog's head not covered, leash threaded from clasp end, only one trap--oversized.
  • Strengths: rejects "manual" method, endorses "belt" or "leash" method.
  • Producer type: outdoor-sports editor.
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap (oversized).
  • Trap set: none (indoors on the floor).
  • Object in trap: bulldog-sized model. Realistic.
  • Release method: belt (variation on the "leash" method, requires a flexible belt).
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: http://youtu.be/gd-dFFgZlng
Citation



Terrier Man
One of Terrier Man's  body-grip trap-release diagrams.
Terrier Man's body-gripping trap-release instructions (print).

Critique
  • Grade: C (not bad, but incomplete physically and politically).
  • Intent: trying to help hunters and trappers get along without trapping regulations?
  • Shortcomings: a shoestring is not as reliable as a leash.
  • Strengths: warns of danger, shows details of trap and how to thread the rope through it.
  • Producer type: sportsman/author.
  • Trap: generic body-gripping trap (no scale).
  • Trap set: none (diagrams only show empty trap).
  • Object in trap: none.
  • Release method: shoestring, leash, rope.
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation
  • Title: Releasing Your Dog From a Trap: Be prepared for the unthinkable -- it could save your dog's life!
  • Talent: "Terrier Man" Patrick Burns.
  • Author: Patrick Burns.
  • Producer: TerrierMan.com
  • Print URL: http://www.terrierman.com/traprelease.htm
  • Date: unknown.
  • Location: Virginia, USA.


Fur-Bearer Defenders
Fur-Bearer Defenders body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: F (failed).
  • Intent: Fundraising? There's actually a fundraising link on the host page.
  • Shortcomings: see comment below.
  • Strengths: none.
  • Producer type: animal-protection organization (for some reason, off-track with this video).
  • Trap: #330 body-gripping trap.
  • Trap set: none (indoors on floor).
  • Object in trap: none. Totally unrealistic.
  • Release method: leash.
  • Long comment (deleted by the producer from the producer's Facebook announcement of the video):
Why do people (and good organizations like this) keep making "comfort videos" like this?

The video of how to open an empty foothold trap on a carpeted floor can only give people false confidence in how easy they think it will be to encounter a trap in real-life, with a struggling, biting dog in it; a stake holding it down; and possibly a wet and muddy surface on which "just stepping down on the trap springs" will not be an option.

And if it's a lethal trap? Now that they've got all of that false confidence built up, about how easy they think it will be to encounter any trap, they might not think they need any more skills than the ones they imagine they have already. In real life, dogs who encounter lethal traps and snares are generally killed, even when their owners are present.

If you're going to make an honest instructional video, you need to have at least a simulation of a struggling, biting dog; a stake holding it down; and possibly a wet and muddy surface on which "just stepping down on the trap springs" will not be an option. You need to have an average person discovering that he or she doesn't have the strength, leverage, timing, or training enough to release the powerful springs of a body-gripping trap, or the spring of a power snare, or the lock of a non-relaxing snare. You need to have a veterinarian recount cases of damage to dogs' throats or spines that was caused immediately as the lethal traps and snares closed on their vulnerable neck tissues.

If you're going to take down a trivialized and misleading instructional video, please start by taking these two down.

I've "graded" some instructional videos better and worse than this, but unfortunately the poor ones keep showing up as each trapping association and State game & fish agency scrambles to present trapping in a good light, or tries to look like it's being helpful, or tries to help but doesn't try hard enough to do their research, or whatever the problem is. We don't need any more, but it looks like we're still getting them.


Citation

Scott Linden Outdoors
Scott Linden Outdoors body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: F (failed, fictitious, fake).
  • Intent: political misinformation.
  • Shortcomings: too many to list--see critic's comment on the YouTube video.
  • Strengths: none.
  • Producer type: trapping lobby.
  • Trap: #220 body-gripping trap.
  • Trap set: none (indoors on a table).
  • Object in trap: none. Totally unrealistic.
  • Release method: 1) by hand, 2) rope.
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: none.
Citation



Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association
MFZTA body-gripping and foothold trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: F (failed, fictitious, fake).
  • Intent: political misdirection.
  • Shortcomings: too many to list--see the critic's video subtitles.
  • Strengths: none.
  • Producer type: trapping lobby.
  • Trap: #220 body-gripping traps (plus coilspring and longspring foothold traps).
  • Trap set: blind trail set, cubby, recessed cubby (foothold sets not shown).
  • Object in trap: cardboard tube. Not a good model.
  • Release method: 1) by hand, 2) setting tool, 3) cable ties (footholds: by hands or feet).
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: http://youtu.be/hjEl8j8Su-o
Citation



Star Tribune
Star Tribune body-gripping trap-release video.

Critique
  • Grade: F (failed, fictitious, fake).
  • Intent: political misinformation.
  • Shortcomings: too many to list--see the critic's video subtitles.
  • Strengths: trail set shown in nature (hidden), "setting tool" and "cable-tie" alternatives introduced.
  • Producer type: trapping lobby.
  • Trap: #220 body-gripping trap.
  • Trap set: none (trap never even triggered).
  • Object in trap: none. Totally unrealistic.
  • Release method: 1) by hand, 2) rope.
  • Critic: SS-Slocum.
  • Critique URL: http://youtu.be/C_RRrBxlLvo
Citation


TrapFree Oregon

TrapFree Oregon: "The Rope Trick."

TrapFree Oregon trap-release instructions

Critique
  • Grade: F++ (Nearly as bad as the Wisconsin Trappers Association (WTA) trap-release instructions, below).
  • The two "plus" signs are added to the still-failing grade because the TrapFree Oregon web page and brochure add photos to supplement and correct the poor-quality WTA diagrams of "the rope trick!"
  • Producer type: animal-protection organization (for some reason, off-track with these instructions).
Citation



Wisconsin Trappers Association

Wisconsin Trappers Association "Rope Trick!"
Wisconsin Trappers Association (WTA) trap-release instructions.

Critique
  • Grade: F+ (Nearly as bad as the Minnesota Trappers Association trap-release instructions, below).
  • The "plus" is added to the still-failing grade because the WTA diagrams are slightly better than the MTA diagrams (perhaps they're the originals from which the MTA diagrams were poorly copied.)
  • Producer type: trapping lobby.
Citation



Minnesota Trappers Association

 
MTA body-gripping trap-release instructions from the 2013 MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook.
 
2014 MTA trap-release instructions in the 2014 MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Manual
 2013 (negligent and misleading)
 2014 (prettier)

Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA) trap-release instructions (in print only).

Critique
Citation
  • Title: How to release a domestic animal from a body gripping (raccoon) trap.
  • Talent: Minnesota Trappers Association.
  • Producer: Minnesota Trappers Association.
  • Host: MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook. Paid advertisement.
  • Host URL: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html
  • Handbook URL: (indexed at the host URL).
  • Date: since at least 2007.
  • Location: Minnesota, USA.