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What trap enclosures FAIL to protect dogs?

posted Apr 1, 2012, 11:04 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 7, 2014, 5:42 PM ]
Beware easy advice about how to avoid incidental catches of non-target animals (i.e. how to avoid killing people's dogs). Every trapper has a feeling and an opinion, many have self-confidence, and more than you would expect are ready at any moment to deliver a well-rehearsed, believable, but deceptive statement of "fact" to the press or to public officials who depend (in vain) upon them for expertise (because who else knows anything about trapping?).

Part of the trapping mythology (intended to stand in place of objective evidence) concerning trap enclosures is that dogs tend to avoid putting their heads into boxes. One hypothesis (reportedly noted in an unknown number of informal observations by unnamed staff of the Wisconsin DNR) is that dogs (it is claimed) tend to put only their snouts (not their eyes) into trap enclosures. Another (apparently without any evidence) is that dogs (it is claimed) tend to avoid going down on their bellies to reach into trap enclosures at or near ground level.

Of course, none of the above constitutes what any rational person would consider evidence. In 2012, given the lack of evidence one way or another, several dog owners (including Scott & his dog Goldie for SS-Slocum.info) did some testing themselves, and their results appear below. Hint: the feelings, opinions, self-confident beliefs, myths, deceptive statements, etc.of the trapping lobby didn't stand up to testing. All of the dogs put their heads deep into the trap enclosures to get the bait.

Please correct SS-Slocum.info if the following summary, or any part of it, is incorrect or incomplete:

According to the 2014 Minnesota Hunting & Trapping Regulations (regarding #220 body-gripping traps)
  1. all of the following lethal-trapping methods (and more) are legal;
  2. they are all allowed year-round on public and private lands and waters when targeting unprotected animals (except where area regulations apply); and
  3. they may be used even without landowner permission in road rights-of-way further than 500 feet from occupied buildings and 3 feet from culverts.
And, if that weren't unregulated enough, the Regulations have even less to say about traps that are just a little bit smaller than the #220s.
  1. no requirement on the opening size of the enclosure, or the recess of the trap inside it;
  2. same exemptions when targeting unprotected animals (even when killing protected animals and people's dogs); and
  3. no 500-foot or 3-foot requirements--a lethal trap may be set without your permission in the ditch at the end of your driveway.


Our dog Goldie's tests:


Goldie's trap test #3: tube snacking (5 min.)
Method: baited body-gripping trap
(not set) in an enclosure with a 4-1/2 inch diameter opening and six-inch recess to the trigger.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: even an opening this small would not protect this dog from a lethal trap if it were set in such a way and in such a place that it would attract the dog and catch it by the neck.

Goldie's trap test #1: cubby snacking (2 min.)
Method: baited #220 body-gripping trap (deactivated) in a plastic enclosure with a six-inch square opening and an eight-inch recess to the trap.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: this lethal trap would be likely to kill this dog if it were set in such a way and in such a place that it would attract the dog and catch it by the neck.


Goldie is now always on her leash, and Scott is now always looking for hidden traps, in unfamiliar places like these woods in Duluth.




Tests by SafeDogMN:


Subject: Springer Spaniel trained for grouse hunting.
Method: baited #220 body-gripping trap (deactivated) recessed seven inches from the top of a trap enclosure with a nine-inch square opening. Typical bobcat set.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: this lethal trap would likely kill this dog if it were set in this way in a public place like this.


Subject: Golden Retriever (or similar breed).
Method: practice "bird" recessed sixteen inches into an empty trap enclosure with a nine-inch square opening.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: this lethal trap would likely kill this dog if it were set in such a way and in such a place that it would attract the dog and catch it by the neck.


Subject: trained grouse-hunting dog.
Method: practice "bird" recessed seven inches from the top of an empty trap enclosure with a nine-inch square opening.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: this lethal trap would likely kill this dog if it were set in such a way and in such a place that it would attract the dog and catch it by the neck.


Subject: chocolate lab (or similar breed).
Method: practice "bird" recessed twelve inches inside an empty trap enclosure with a seven-by-seven inch opening.
Result: this trap enclosure DID NOT act as a barrier to this dog.
Discussion: this lethal trap would likely kill this dog if it were set in such a way and in such a place that it would attract the dog and catch it by the neck.