MN Rep. Ward's Good Bill to Protect Dogs from Body-Gripping Traps

Post date: Apr 4, 2012 8:11:29 PM

2013-2014 Biennium

Representative John Ward (DFL-Brainerd) with co-authors Mark Uglem (R-Champlin), Ron Erhardt (DFL-Edina), Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater) , Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids), JoAnn Ward (DFL-Woodbury), Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview), Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), Mark Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley), and Yvonne Selcer (DFL-Minnetonka) have re-introduced last year's body-gripping trapping bill to protect dogs from unnecessarily death in body-gripping traps that are set for wildlife.

The 2013 bill is identified as HF 456: Body-gripping trap restrictions modified. The word "modified" refers to its repeal of the non-functional legislation that was put in its place last year.

MN Rep. John Ward
MN Rep. Mark Uglem
MN Rep. Ron Erhardt
MN Rep. Kathy Lohmer
MN Rep. Jerry Newton
MN Rep. JoAnn Ward
MN Rep. Jason Isaacson
MN Rep. Peter Fischer
MN Rep. Mike Freiberg
MN Rep. Yvonne Selcer

From left to right, Minnesota Representatives and co-authors

John Ward, Mark Uglem, Ron Erhardt, Kathy Lohmer, Jerry Newton,

JoAnn Ward, Jason Isaacson, Peter Fischer, Mike Freiberg, and Yvonne Selcer.

See also: Wiger's Good Bill.

2011-2012 Biennium

4/3/2012: Representative John Ward (DFL-Brainerd) stood up to protect Minnesota dogs from unnecessarily death in body-gripping traps that are set for wildlife.

Representative John Ward (DFL-Brainerd).
MN Representative Mindy Greiling

Rep. Ward stood during the MN House floor debate of the 2012 Game & Fish Bill (HF 2171) to propose an amendment co-authored by Representative Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville).

A month earlier, Ward's own dog-safe legislation (HF 2243 to regulate the use of body-gripping traps) had been silenced in committee and replaced by a non-functional bill. Yesterday, Ward spoke against that non-functional bill (now Section 64 of HF 2171), and offered his amendment 398 to improve it.

The amendment didn't pass (the vote was Yea: 55, Nay: 76). The Committee had its votes in line, and anyone who voted "Yea" (including our White Bear area Representative Carol McFarlane) was exercising their own, open hearts and minds. Thanks for each of those courageous "yea" votes.

Of course, Representative Ward's amendment and discussion didn't sit well with the Committee authors.

In his defensive response, Representative Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) complained that the issue had been seen "numerous times" on the news, and pled that the Environment & Natural Resources Committee "did not ignore this issue!" He tried to offer assurances that concessions had been made as the Game & Fish Bill went "through the process." He said that amendments like Representative Ward's shouldn't be done on the fly, on the floor: that they need to be worked through the process. He neglected to offer any details of that process, which had, in fact, included only a comfortable circle of Committee Members, Committee Chair, and select testimony. Select testimony apparently did not include signers nor representatives of the petitions for Safe Public Lands, Banning Unnecessary & Unsafe Trapping, or Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN.

In his defensive response, Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) said that sometimes these things get too emotional, so it's hard to get people together to talk about them, so he did the best he could and came up with the compromise legislation (that's now in the Game & Fish Bill). Again, without any detail, he lashed out against unnamed opponents by charging that they "had not been honest." Apparently, he was referring to critics (perhaps including and its blog entries McNamara's typo through Empty fixes) who had pointed out an obvious error in his legislation that would have allowed new uses of the largest body-gripping traps on land (they're currently allowed only in the water). He neglected to mention that his critics had proven to be correct and that his error had recently been corrected.

In both defensive responses, the Committee Member and the Committee Chair refused to acknowledge that their critics (including and thousands of petition signers and dog owners remain unsatisfied by the non-functional legislation and continue to call for the popular, dog-safe legislation (HF 2243 / SF 1736).

This debate can be viewed online beginning at 05:20:50 (five hours, twenty minutes, and fifty seconds into the video). If the link here doesn't work, the video can be found by searching the House Audio and Video Archives for "HF2171" in the "current biennium." Hint: the "non-frames" version on a Windows computer opens in a separate video-player window. One such video player, Windows Media Player, shows a time code that can be used to "fast forward" to the desired portion of the debate. The "enhanced version" opens on a web page without a time code.

Another part of this debate (beginning at 05:09:02) also shed light on the "legislative process" ala Hackbarth. Representative Kerry Gauthier (DFL-Duluth) asked Rep. Hackbarth whether the Anishinabe Tribal Governments or Elders had been consulted as part of the legislative process of developing Minnesota's new wolf hunting season. Hackbarth replied no--the Tribal Elders had not been consulted. Again defensive, Rep. Hackbarth replied that "they had perfect opportunity to come forward and speak to the issue." Rep. Gauthier pointed out that "sometimes we need to go the extra step" to invite input on issues like this. For more on Native-American (Anishinabe, Ojibway, Chippewa) treaty rights regarding wolves, see James Gorman's article Before Wolves May Be Hunted, New York Times, 3/12/2012.

Journal of the House - 99th Day - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - pp. 8253-8254.

Ward and Greiling moved to amend H. F. No. 2171, the fourth engrossment, as amended, as follows:

Page 29, delete section 64 and insert:


Subdivision 1. Placement of traps. (a) On land or ice on public land, a person may not set place or operate, except as a water set, a body-gripping or "conibear" type trap that has a maximum jaw opening, when set, greater than six and one-half inches and less than seven and one-half inches measured from the inside edges of the body-gripping portions of the jaws unless:

(1) the trap is elevated at least four feet above the surface;

(2) the trap is in an enclosure with any opening no greater than 50 square inches with the trap trigger recessed seven inches from any opening;

(3) the trap is in an enclosure with only one entrance, directly facing the ground with the entrance no more than six inches from the surface and the trap trigger is recessed four inches from the opening; or

(4) the maximum jaw opening, when set, is no more than six and one-half inches as measured from the inside edges of the body-gripping portions of the jaws and no part of the body-gripping surface is more than eight inches above the trail surface and no bait, lure or other attractant is placed within 100 feet of the trap.

Subd. 2. Right-of-way. (a) A person may not set, place, or operate any body-gripping trap with a maximum jaw opening, when set no greater than five and one-half inches as measured from the inside edges of the body-gripping portions of the jaws, in the road right-of-way within 500 feet of a building occupied by a human or livestock without written permission of the occupant or landowner, except as a completely submerged waterset.

(b) A person may not set, place, or operate in the road right-of-way a body-gripping or "conibear" type trap that has a maximum jaw opening, when set, of greater than five and one-half inches when measured from the inside edges of the jaws in or within three feet of the opening of a six-foot wide or smaller culvert, except as a completely submerged waterset."

Voting on MN Rep. John Ward's body-gripping trapping amendment to the Game & Fish Bill, 4/3/2012.

Minnesota House of Representatives, Saint Paul, MN, USA.

The amendment did not pass on a vote of 76 no, 55 yes.