Wolf trapping vs. dog safety

Post date: Jul 5, 2014 5:27:14 PM

The connection between wolf trapping and dog safety is not generally so pronounced as it is in the controversy over the public use of ski trails in the Lake Como area of the Bitterroot National Forest. The controversy erupted in 2012 and is still sparking changes to trapping policy and regulations.

In short, an politically-active trapper posted signs warning that wolf traps might be set along the popular ski trails. The trails had been developed in the last several years through a wintertime ski-trail grooming program (Backus 2013). The general public had been (and continue to be) encouraged to bring their dogs. The warning signs seemed to be another tactic in a campaign to assert trappers' privileges to continue doing what they've been doing in the past as long as it's legal. Around Lake Como, the USFS responded by issuing an emergency order to set traps back at least 150 feet from the Lake Como ski trails. This was in addition to the existing setback regulation of 1,000 feet from trailheads and campgrounds (Chaney 2012).

Trapper Mike Day of Missoula, MT complained about the trail setbacks, pointing out that trails are the best place to catch wolves: “If your location’s wrong, you’re not going to catch nothing.” (Chaney 2012).

On the topic of responsible trapping, Mike Thompson, FWP Regional Wildlife Manager said “We taught wolf trappers to do the right thing, even when the wrong thing is legal,” Thompson said. “I think every graduate of our wolf trapping class would agree that the Lake Como ski trails are a poor place to trap wolves. Apparently, even the person who posted the signs did not set a trap there.” (USFS 2012).

Another recreational area in the Bitterroot National Forest (the Bass Creek Recreation Area) has been permanently designated as a trap-free zone. The same might be done around Lake Como (Backus 2014).


Backus, Perry. 2013. “Trappers Asked to Avoid Lake Como Ski Trails.” Missoulian, December 19. http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/recreation/trappers-asked-to-avoid-lake-como-ski-trails/article_044557d4-686f-11e3-9929-0019bb2963f4.html.

Backus, Perry. 2014. “FWP to Address Trapping at Lake Como.” Ravalli Republic, July 5. http://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_c3efdff4-03c5-11e4-8581-0019bb2963f4.html.

Chaney, Rob. 2012. “Wolf Trapping Season Begins; Protest Held in Missoula.” Missoulian, December 16. http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/wolf-trapping-season-begins-protest-held-in-missoula/article_188067f4-470d-11e2-aa57-0019bb2963f4.html.

USFS. 2012. Trapping Setbacks to Be Required on Lake Como Ski Trails. Press release. Hamilton, MT, USA: United States Forest Service. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/bitterroot/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5404173.