Oregon toughens trapping rules

Pet safety in mind, snares must now be farther from trails

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Oregon's roughly 1,200 licensed trappers are in the midst of their first season under new restrictions designed to protect pets and other animals from traps meant for animals such as beavers or bobcats.

Trappers now are banned from setting their snares within 50 feet of any public trail or within 300 feet of any trailhead, public campground or picnic area. Also, killing traps with jaws spread between 7.5 inches and 9 inches cannot be placed within 50 feet of a permanent or seasonal water source on public land.

Trapping for marten opened Nov. 1, while the season for beavers, foxes and most other furbearers started Nov. 15. Today is the start of the bobcat-trapping season.

With the support of the Oregon Trappers Association, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the rules to protect pets after a handful of dogs were caught and killed in traps in recent years, including one in White City's Denman Wildlife Area.

They included a Jack Russell terrier named Ruby that was killed in a conibear trap set in 2005 just off a Denman trail that links the wildlife areas to TouVelle State Park. Since then, that form of trap has been banned from the wildlife area.

A similar instance occurred last winter in Central Oregon, which triggered a review of trapping that showed "there was a weakness in how the rules were written," said Doug Nichol, president of the Oregon Trappers Association.

"We were hoping that by adopting these new rules we'd eliminate this from happening again," Nichol said. "We're trying to educate people to try not to create an event that doesn't have to happen."

Only one trapper is allowed to trap now at Denman, and he received permission this week to start setting his traps in an area near Nick Young Road and in the northwest corner of the wildlife area.