MTA legislative report avoids the facts.

Post date: Apr 17, 2012 6:36:07 PM

The Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA) Legislative Director's March 2012 report was titled "Latest 220 Issue," referring to the request for dog-safe trapping regulations (vs. the non-functional trapping regulations that have been substituted for them). A "220" is a #220 body-gripping trap (one of the larger sizes, that's most dangerous for mid-size to large-size hunting dogs). There's been a dislocated dialogue on the controversy happening all over the map--but never in one place where all of the stakeholders can communicate with each other, Legislators, and DNR officials.

The report begins by dismissing the MTA's opponents--all of them mixed up together. The first target is a citizen concerned about the resale of confiscated Saturday-Night Specials. What does that have to do with the trapping issue? Nothing.

The next targets are "dogs and cats that are turned loose when the kids board the school bus and the parents go to work." That's getting closer to the point, but it's trying to blame the trapping deaths of dogs and cats on their owners, rather than on the trappers.

For some reason, the next part of the report is about the author's dogs harassing farm animals, wandering onto thin river ice and busy highways.

Finally getting to the point, the report correctly questions the validity of the testimony of MTA spokesman Gary Leistico before the Minnesota Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources on 3/6/2012 (for more on Mr. Leistico's testimony, see the blog entry Carlson's Typo). The only evidence Mr. Leistico offered that an 81 square-inch box opening ("cubby" opening) with a 7-inch trap recess would protect dogs from body-gripping traps was his own statement. For actual evidence to the contrary, see Goldie's Trap Tests and the videos at SafeDogMN, in which it's easy to see that the 81 square-inch opening and the 7-inch recess aren't protecting the dogs.

So, what would protect dogs?. There's some relevant information about that on page 26 of the MTA Trapper Education Manual. Two trapping methods are listed for bobcats: the cubby that kills dogs and the dirt-hole set that doesn't (p. 40). Although there's nothing there about the running-pole set, that's another option. Now let's look at raccoons (p. 14): the manual lists eight trapping methods (not including the dog-proof raccoon trap) with a wide variety of lures and baits, some taking advantage of the climbing skills of raccoons. Only one of these raccoon-trapping methods kills dogs: the meat-baited cubby on the ground.

One more scare left, though, for the MTA report: foxes taking ground-nesting birds. What's the point with foxes? Apparently that raccoon trappers only want to use sets that kill dogs, and if they can't do that, then they won't want to trap foxes either. That's a leap. Take a look at the methods for trapping red fox (p. 15) and note that body-gripping traps aren't used for foxes.

The scare tactic about raccoons and foxes is an overture to bird hunters, which is one of the largest groups asking for the regulation of body-gripping traps. Are they really supposed to believe that untrapped raccoons (and foxes?) would somehow pose more of a problem than the traps that have been killing their dogs?