WB Twp. Board

Post date: Apr 9, 2012 7:59:19 PM

This page describes the progress of White Bear Township, MN and petitioner Scott Slocum in developing a trapping Ordinance

in response to the Petition for Protection from Trapping in the White Bear Lake, MN area.

  • Feb 2012: Scott presented the Petition to the Town Board (but did not propose a detailed solution).
  • Apr 2012: Public Safety Commission: Scott presented the Petition (but did not propose a detailed solution).
  • Jun 2012: Public Safety Commission: Caution from Minnesota Trappers Association: trapping Ordinance should not interfere with responsible wildlife management.
  • Jun 2012: Scott proposed a detailed solution: adoption of the Shoreview, MN wildlife-management Ordinances.
  • Jul 2012: Board directed Attorney Lemmons to draft an Ordinance (assuming that he would work with Scott on it).
  • Sep 2012: Board passed Attorney Lemmons' unreviewed draft. Scott learned about it only by reading its announcement in the newspaper.
  • Oct 2012: Scott complained. Chairman Mample apologized for the miscommunication, suggesting Scott work with Attorney Kelly to draft an Ordinance with a detailed list of allowed methods.
  • Nov 2012: Board provided one piece of feedback to Scott's draft Ordinance: trap-tending intervals should be lengthened.
  • Dec 2012: Scott discussed a shortcoming of the "detailed-list" approach: it's hard to make it exhaustive. Board discussed possibility of working with the City.
  • Jan 2013: City passed a trapping Ordinance: "trapping is allowed if it is 1) done with cage traps or small-rodent traps or 2) approved by the City, or 3) done by a professional."
  • Jan 2013: Board did not want staff to have as much regulatory power as the City granted to its staff. Alternative: a detailed list of methods allowed for non-professionals.
  • Feb 2013: Public Safety Commission: Scott presented his proposed revision #5 of the Township trapping Ordinance (and followed up with an executive summary).
  • Feb 2013: Town Planner suggested a change that Scott included in revision #6 of his proposed trapping Ordinance.
  • Feb 2013: Board declined to regulate trapping on private property. Scott made a public-property version #7 of his proposal, and later a public-property version #8.
  • Mar 2013: As instructed by the Board, the Town Planner drafted a new compromise trapping Ordinance.
  • May 2013: Board rejects the compromise trapping Ordinance, citing concerns over private property (although private property was exempted), limited methods (although allowed methods included all of the methods most commonly used in this area), and wording (even though the Attorney was not asked to improve the wording).

Some old links on this page might point to documents that are no longer available. Available documents (including a history of former revisions) are listed at the bottom of this page.


Executive meeting of the Board. The White Bear Township Board today declined to accept any changes or corrections to its current trapping Ordinance.

Board Supervisor Ed Prudhon began the opposition by repeating his opinion that the current trapping Ordinance is sufficient (without responding to Scott Slocum's 10/1/2012 list of its shortcomings and technical and legal inaccuracies).

He went on to the topic of private property; but when it became apparent that he was arguing against a previous proposal (not the proposal that was on the table), Scott pointed out that the proposal that was on the table in fact exempted private property entirely. Rather than accept this correction, Supervisor Prudhon suggested that the proposed Ordinance was too complicated to be workable (as if that's why he had misunderstood it as having anything to do with private property).

Supervisor Prudhon said he had spoken with trappers (not on the public record) who felt that, with all of the limitations of the proposed Ordinance, they would just choose not to trap (rather than use one of the allowed methods). Given those feelings, he suggested that the proposal amounted to an outright trapping ban.

Scott was still responding to these points in the manner of a discussion; but it would soon become clear that this was not a discussion. It didn't matter how many misconceptions were stated and corrected; this was a dismissal.

Scott's last attempt at discussion was to quote testimony from the public record by members of the Minnesota Trappers Association to the White Bear Lake City Council: that watersets and cage traps (two of the methods allowed by the proposed Ordinance) were the two primary trapping methods in this area.

But then it was time to end the discussion. Board Supervisor Bob Kermes brought into question a section of wording that wasn't completely clear. Scott agreed that it wasn't completely clear (in fact, Scott had asked for a clarification of this section), but before the Town Attorney could suggest a clarification, Supervisor Kermes concluded his argument: the proposal was unworkable and could only be scrapped.

Board Chairman Bill Mample, the architect of the compromise, went along with the majority so quickly that he was already announcing the next item on the agenda before Scott could complete his empty gesture of making a two-sentence objection: 1) I'm very disappointed, and 2) this decision is based on misconceptions.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board discussed how to enhance its consistency and dynamics by lengthening the term of its members from four years to six years. For all of this Board's reluctance to change, its interest in this change seems out of place. Apparently, part of its appeal is that it would tend to inhibit change; but for all the talk of 150-year-old traditions it still seems out of place. The way this democracy is supposed to work is that if the Board is doing a good job, its consistency and good dynamics are continued according to the people's vote. Granted, this Town Board is probably better at roads, water & sewer, and their other regular responsibilities than it is in responding with to informed calls for change; but in light of today's decision based upon misconceptions, it's the opinion of this writer that this Board's consistency and dynamics aren't so hot, and that even the old four-year term would be too long to wait before giving the public its opportunity to vote for change.

5/15/2013: White Bear Press article: White Bear Township trapping laws won't change.

3/20/2013: White Bear Press article: Township still tending trapping ordinance.

3/20/2013: The Town Planner prepared his own first draft of a proposed trapping Ordinance. As instructed by the Board, it did not regulate trapping on private property in any way, and did not establish any kind of buffer zones. Scott recommended improvements including a clarification of the dependence of Sections 4 and 5 on Section 3. In other words, Scott recommended that it be made clear that Sections 4 and 5 only limited the methods of trapping that were allowed by Section 3 (on Township Green Space by persons not authorized by the State, County, or Town). For example, Scott recommended that it be made clear that Sections 4 and 5 did not in any way address trapping on private property or trapping on Township Green Space by persons authorized by the State, County, or Town. The Town Planner did not take this recommendation [and the resulting lack of clarity was later cited by the Town Board on 5/3/2013 as grounds to reject the entire proposal, rather than simply improving its clarity.]

2/22/2013: Executive meeting of the Board. The Board declined to regulate trapping on private property at this time. Although it might be addressed at some time in the future, it will not be addressed now. There was not enough time to meaningfully discuss the proposed idea of regulating trapping in buffer zones around areas with "public pedestrian traffic." The idea for buffer zones is that although an allowed trapping method is generally considered safe in an appropriate location, it is not considered safe near a recreational area, playground, road, or trail. In response, Scott drafted public-property version #8 of his proposal, accompanied by an executive summary, with buffer zones reduced in size for further discussion.

2/10/2013: In response to questions about the meaning of the term "pedestrian traffic" in his revision #5, Scott defined and used the term "public pedestrian traffic" in his revision #6 of a proposed trapping Ordinance.

1/25/2013: Executive meeting of the Board. The Board felt that the City's new trapping Ordinance would place too much regulatory power on staff and would not allow property owners enough discretion. Scott suggested that that could be done by specifically allowing more trapping methods, for example, by allowing watersets as City staff had themselves considered. In fact, the entire detailed list of allowed methods that Scott had already proposed could be incorporated. The Board authorized Attorney Kelly to work with Scott on that idea. Scott incorporated it into a new revision #5 of a detailed trapping Ordinance. Scott introduced this proposed Ordinance to the Public Safety Commission in a 2/5/2013 letter and discussed it with the Commission at its 2/7/2013 meeting. He provided an executive summary of revision #5 on 2/8/2013 in response to some of the questions that were asked at the Public Safety Commission meeting.

12/28/2012: Executive meeting of the Board. Talking with staff in preparation for this meeting, Scott learned more about why details are desired in a trapping Ordinance. In order to provide more workable details, Scott prepared a new revision #4 of a detailed trapping Ordinance. The new revision made trap-tending requirements more reasonable for trappers who aren't equipped with remote-sensing devices, and closed loopholes in its lists of what trapping methods are considered safe and unsafe for people and domestic animals. In his 12/27/2012 letter, Scott expressed doubt that any such lists could be complete, and again recommended the Shoreview, MN approach, which doesn't attempt to make complete lists, but rather puts wildlife management into the hands of professionals who are held responsible for operating safely. He also pointed out that the City of White Bear Lake was considering a modified form of the Shoreview, MN model in which trapping would be open to all licensed trappers, but everyone would be held responsible for operating safely.

The Town Board expressed a new interest in coordinating White Bear Township trapping policy with that of the City of White Bear Lake. Scott applauded that interest.

11/30/2012: Executive meeting of the Board. The Board received Scott's 11/14/2012 letter and proposed trapping ordinance ("petitioner's revision #03"). The Board will review the proposed ordinance and ask for expert input. Scott also sent out requests for expert input, and followed up with his 12/1/2012 letter to the Board explaining why he proposed more frequent trap tending than the State requires (because the risks of non-essential trapping are higher and the per-capita benefits are lower in Town than they are statewide).

11/14/2012: Scott sent the Board, staff, and attorneys his proposed "petitioner's pevision #03" of the 9/5/2012 Township Ordinance on trapping along with his 11/14/2012 letter contrasting it with the Thorough System and Detailed System for Safe Suburban Wildlife Management.

10/26/2012: Executive meeting of the Board. The Board didn't comment on the "Thorough" Ordinance Scott had proposed, but rather asked for a list of trapping methods that would generally be considered safe for people and domestic animals in residential and recreational areas. Scott referred to the list of allowable methods he had prepared as part of the Detailed System for Safe Suburban Wildlife Management. On 11/1/2012, Scott incorporated this worksheet into a sample Ordinance similar to the Safe-only System.

10/8/2012: Scott completed a recommended "Thorough" Ordinance for Wildlife Management Programs and sent it to the Township Attorneys. The next day he dropped off a copy for the White Bear Township Board. For discussion at the 10/26/2012 Executive Board Meeting.

10/1/2012: Township Board meeting. Board Chairman Bill Mample apologized for the miscommunication that had left Scott out of the loop in the development of the new trapping Ordinance--and more importantly, for the unacceptable Ordinance. Scott was at the meeting to personally introduce and summarize his 10/1/2012 letter to the Board that detailed problems with the new Ordinance and how they might be fixed. Scott explained that one of the things that the new Ordinance didn't do was to limit trapping to methods safe for a residential community. The Ordinance only referred to State trapping regulations, which are only meant to provide basic protections that are acceptable throughout the State, and which are in need of improvement themselves (e.g. regarding the regulation of body-gripping traps to prevent the killing of dogs). Scott pointed out that "in residential areas like White Bear Township, professional trappers use methods that pose less danger to people and domestic animals. Those are the only methods that should be used in White Bear Township." He concluded by repeating his offer to help. After the meeting, Scott talked with Board Chairman Mample and Town Attorney Pat Kelly about next steps. "Call me," said Kelly, "and maybe draft something." Now they were talking.

9/28/2012: Scott picked up a copy of the new "Trapping Information Packet" at the Township offices. All he knew about it was what he'd read in the White Bear Press. It wasn't an appropriate response to the Petition for Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN, but it took him hours and hours to figure out what it really was. And then he spent the rest of the weekend describing it and how it could be fixed. He brought that information to the 10/1/2012 Town Board Meeting.

9/5/2012: Township Board meeting. A "Trapping Information Packet" including a new trapping Ordinance was revealed and approved--boom, just like that. It had been developed by Town attorneys in response to the Petition for Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN with reference to information that Scott had provided--but it turned out very wrong.

7/27/2012: Executive meeting of the Board.

The White Bear Township Board invited Scott Slocum to its 7/27/2012 executive board meeting. In recent letters to the Board, Scott had brought up the following subjects:

  • Three everyday situations in which suburban dogs are exposed to lethal traps.
  • Public Safety Commission recommendation. For some reason (still unknown on 7/28/2012 since the minutes have not been published), the Commission recommended "no change" after hearing two sides of the trapping issue but before discussing how to resolve the differences.
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) draft proposal for body-gripping trapping regulations, 2/26/2012. Board Supervisor Ed Prudhon indicated that the Public Safety Commission wanted to wait for it, so Scott provided a copy. Of course, these recommendations were for the State of Minnesota as a whole, not for suburban communities like White Bear Township.
  • Board Chairman Bill Mample's position of "no change to Township Ordinances." Scott asked for specific responses to complaints, editorials, suggestions, and requests for change.
  • Board Supervisor Kermes' suggestion that trapping issues and Ordinances be brought to the community's attention, and that the Township Ordinances be reviewed for possible update.
  • Inconsistency in the Township Ordinances. One set of ordinances prohibits unattended dangerous equipment, but another seems to allow the setting of (unnattended dangerous) traps.
  • Wildlife Management Program Ordinances of Shoreview, MN provide a proven model that other communities can follow without "reinventing the wheel."

Board Chairman Bill Mample opened by saying that the Board wanted to make dog owners in the Township feel safe on public land, but still allow trapping. Private property could be addresses separately at another time. He said that he was not saying that the Township could make trapping completely safe for pets. He said he would like Scott Slocum to help, but didn't offer an opportunity, and didn't respond to Scott's points (outlined above). He outlined a system in which trappers would obtain trapping permits from the Township along with a set of trapping regulations, referring the matter to Attorney Chad Lemmons. Scott illustrated the private-property issue in the marshland behind his home; it's mostly the private property of homeowners in the neighborhood who want the area to be safe for everyone.

During this brief session, Scott affirmed his agreement that Township Ordinances should be balanced to allow for safe, responsible suburban wildlife management. He agreed that it would be good for public safety to bring trapping issues into sharper community focus. He accepted that his next step would be simply to wait for the attorney to "come up with something," expecting that he would do so with reference to trapping literature, trapping ethics, and the guidance of experts in the field of suburban wildlife management.

Scott reiterated the two major points that he had recently brought to the Board: 1) that dangerous traps are the equivalent of other "dangerous equipment" that is not currently allowed on public or private property, and 2) that a simple, effective solution would be to adopt the Shoreview Wildlife Management Ordinances.

7/3/2012: Scott sent a letter in response to the 6/22/2012 meeting notes.

6/22/2012: Board meeting included a discussion that included the Petition for Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN. Scott was told that the Petition wouldn't be addressed untin the 7/2/2012 meeting, so he wasn't present at the 6/22/2012 meeting to answer questions.

6/18/2012: Scott sent a letter to the White Bear Township Board summarizing his presentations to the Board and Public Safety Commission, and asking for Wildlife Management Program Ordinances like those of Shoreview, MN.

4/16/2012: At the next White Bear Township Board Meeting, the Park Board will present its recommendation for a change to the Parks & Open Spaces Ordinances that would prohibit trapping not just in Township parks (as it is now), but on all of the Township's public lands and waters. Scott Slocum will attend this meeting to discuss the Park Board recommendation and the option of protecting citizens from trapping not just on public lands but also on private property. That's what the cities of Roseville, MN and Woodbury, MN have done to provide for the public safety in our suburban area.

2/27/2012: Scott Slocum presented a printed copy of the Petition for Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN (which by then had about 260 signatures) to the Board and reviewed some of the trapping literature that he had gathered. The literature overwhelmingly cautions against the use of lethal traps in suburbs or other areas with people and dogs nearby. This presentation is available online in the Dogs & Traps seminar video #1: Regulations (32 minutes). The Board and Township staff asked Scott to provide literature references for them to review. The Board did not make a decision at this meeting, but instead referred the matter to the White Bear Township Public Safety Commission at its next meeting on 4/5/2012. In the following weeks, Scott assembled packets of information and delivered them to the Board and Public Safety Commission.

2/24/2012: Scott Slocum attended a pre-meeting workshop of the White Bear Township Board. Board members kindly expressed their condolences at the 1/26/2012 death of Scott's dog Phillip, but then described their reluctance to act on what they considered to be an "isolated incident." Board Chair Bill Mample said that, given the 150-year history of the Township, in which dog owners and trappers have coexisted without the need for additional trapping ordinances, that he would be reluctant to make any changes. Board Supervisor Ed Prudhon pointed out that there is sometimes a need for pest control (referring to local coyote sightings), and suggested that this kind of lethal trapping can be used to accomplish that. He expressed his doubts that live-trapping (a safer method for dogs) could be used effectively (referring to the live-trap in his back yard that's "not catching anything"). Board Supervisor Bob Kermes reviewed current vs. proposed trapping ordinances.

2/8/2012: The Board received the new Petition for Protection from Trapping in White Bear, MN. The petition had only just been created, and had only a few signatures at the time. There was some preliminary discussion.