My experience with the MTA / MN-DNR trap-release instructions

Post date: Jul 24, 2014 5:31:05 PM

I see they've prettied up the trap-release instructions in the 2014 Minnesota Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook (the "Paid Advertisement" of the Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA) on page 39). Still negligent and politically-misleading.

My experience with the MTA trap-release instructions:

  • My Jack Russell Terrier was killed by a #160 body-gripping trap in January, 2012.
  • The previous Fall, I had read the 2011 MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook, including the trap-release instructions on page 34.
  • I'm six feet tall, weigh about 185 pounds, and am fit with above-average hand and body strength. I'm generally good with tools and machinery.
  • After reading the instructions, I had assumed that I would be able to use the primary method (for real men) as opposed to the "rope method alternative" (for those who "cannot squeeze the springs of the trap by hand.")
  • I didn't think I needed to practice (either method) with an actual trap.
  • That Winter, I was walking behind my dog on the ice of our suburban marshland, in sight of home. He cried out about five times, and I knew something terrible was wrong. I'd never heard that sound.
  • I reached him within a few seconds, remained calm (step one), and grasped the trap springs with both hands (step two).
  • I soon learned that I didn't have the strength to complete step two. After failing for the second time, I began to lose my calm.
  • I think I remember him looking at me, wondering why I was causing him such pain.
  • He was struggling to pull away from the trap anchor, twisting and moving up and down and side to side.
  • When I moved onto step three ("squeezing together on one of the springs with both hands") he was biting at my hands.
  • The mechanical parts of the trap were obscured by his skin and fur.
  • His neck had been crushed between the jaws of the trap, with a very small space between them.
  • As I remember, there was only enough space on the spring to grasp it firmly with one hand; there was no way to reach the spring loops from inside the trap with the other hand. There was a dog inside the trap.
  • After my dog had stopped struggling (after he had lost consciousness, and perhaps after he had lost his life), I was only able to compress and latch the springs, one at a time, by planting one spring on the ice and snow and pressing down with both hands, applying a good deal of body weight.
  • I attempted CPR. Although I did achieve an air seal around my dog's nose and mouth, I did not achieve a smooth flow of air to his lings. The only flow of air I could detect was a bubbling at the highest pressure I could achieve.
  • I continued CPR for what seemed to be a very long time. When I reached the emergency veterinary line later on, I was assured that ten minutes would have covered the normal window of opportunity for a successful revival.
  • I thawed the January ground for his grave with a large, propane blowtorch under a steel cover. About two feet with a pickaxe, and then easier shoveling.
  • I bought a trap to practice with, and I began to describe the lethal traps as they really are, and the negligent and politically misleading trap-release instructions as they really are.
Diagram of step 2 from the 2013 MTA trap-release instructions.
The #160 body-gripping trap that killed Phillip

PR: made to look easy.

Reality: hard.