Who records and tracks incidents of dogs killed or injured by traps?

Post date: Apr 23, 2012 7:54:08 PM

A few organizations keep records of dogs that are injured or killed by traps, but none of them are complete.

Some of us try to make lists, or to spread the word about non-target trapping incidents because we want them to be known and avoided in the future. Most of us just talk with people, the news media, our representatives and our local officials. They remember for a while, but they only know about the incidents they've personally heard about.

Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN: please report any trapping incidents in which Minnesota pets have been injured or killed by traps or snares.

This reporting system has been used to advocate for improved trapping regulations in the State of Minnesota.

Born Free USA: please report any trapping incidents in which U.S. pets have been injured or killed by traps or snares.

This is a good non-target trapping incident reporting system, but not many people know about it, and not everyone is willing to use it. For example, although hunting dogs might be the largest group of dogs that are killed or injured by body-gripping traps, many hunters won't use the Born Free USA system because they don't want to help an "anti" organization (i.e. an "anti-trapping" organization, in other words an animal-protection organization that opposes recreational and commercial trapping).

The following organizations and individuals had been reluctant, in the past, to record and track non-target trapping incidents:

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR)
    • Back in April 2012, MN DNR Wildlife Section Chief Dennis Simon said that while he had an interest in an "incidental-catch" system, he cautioned that it might not be possible given "staffing and workload considerations, with yet another unfunded activity, with systemic staff shortages and a sharp move toward small state government."
  • Update, January, 2013: the MN DNR began to keep track of the reports they received of dogs killed or injured by traps during the 2012/2013 hunting and trapping seasons (Doug Smith, Star Tribune, 1/15/2013, "Number of dogs killed by traps concerns owners"). The count of reported incidents was 9 dogs dead and 8 dogs injured in about two months. A MN DNR spokesman said that he "wouldn't want to draw any conclusions" from those numbers, but of course dog owners and legislators concluded that those numbers were enough to show that there was a problem to be solved. Despite requests from the public (and no doubt from the State Legislature), the MN DNR had been reluctant to keep count; as late as 10/20/2012 (Dave Orrick, Pioneer Press, 10/20/2012, "Will Minnesota's new trapping rules mean fewer dog deaths?"), the MN DNR spokesman had said that there were "no plans to create a formal tracking system." That was in contrast to the Wisconsin DNR, which had been tracking dog-trapping incidents and providing that information to policy makers since 1997.
  • Update February, 2019: the MN DNR has been recording Trap Incident Reports for seven years now. What can we learn from the MN DNR Trap-Incident Reports?
  • MN DNR Conservation Officers (MN DNR CO).
    • My CO didn't publicly report my dog's 1/26/2012 death--not even in her weekly reports:
      • "1/27/2012: ... assisted Anoka County Water Patrol on Sunday with a truck that broke through the ice on Peltier Lake. The occupant and his dog were able to get out safely. She also worked fishing and ATV enforcement on area lakes and handled calls about nuisance coyotes."
      • "2/3/2012: ... worked fishing and ATV enforcement on area lakes. She handled a call about a fish house abandoned in an individual's driveway in White Bear Lake and handled various TIP calls. CO L. K also assisted Ramsey County Water Patrol with a vehicle through the ice on Bald Eagle Lake, and issued a car-kill deer permit in Oakdale."
  • Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA).
    • For example, "expert" testimony as part of Carlson's Typo was very confident, but equally incorrect.

Some individuals and organizations have benefited from voters' ignorance of problems with trapping. Although the MN DNR and the MTA didn't actually have good statistics, they felt free to express their opinions to the media as if they did (for instance, in their 2012 criticisms of Minnesota legislation to protect dogs from body-gripping traps).