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Keep dogs safe in the outdoors during trapping season

Coil-spring trap
Typical break-away
Standard body-gripping trap
Click images to enlarge.

December 10, 2015

SALEM, Ore.— With many furbearer trapping seasons underway until March 31, ODFW reminds dog owners to be aware that trapping activities could occur in areas where they walk or hike with their dogs.

Traps can be set on public land, but state regulations require they be set at minimum distances from designated trails and public use areas. Traps may also be set on private land by permission of the landowner.

“Dogs running loose run the risk of being accidentally captured in legally set traps, which could cause serious injury or even death,” said Derek Broman, ODFW furbearer coordinator. “To help keep dogs safe and prevent such tragedies from happening, we want their owners to be aware of the possibility of trapping activity in areas where they spend time outdoors with their dogs.”

ODFW also recommends that dog owners:

  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Or, keep your dog in sight and under voice command—don’t let the dog wander off, especially out of sight.
  • Keep your dog on designated trails and within designated public use areas. Traps must be set at minimum distances away from these locations (more information below).
  • Remember traps are often found near water as many furbearers (beaver, muskrat, nutria) are targeted under water or the water’s edge.
  • Remember lures and baits used by trappers can attract dogs, too (another reason to keep the dog under control).
  • If the dog is often off trails and designated public use areas, understand how to release a dog from a trap. Idaho Fish and Game and Alaska Fish and Game have brochures and videos with detailed how-tos.
  • Carry the appropriate tools (cable cutter and length of rope) to be prepared in case you need to release your dog from a trap or snare.

Furbearer regulations set restrictions on the type and size of traps that can be used and also where trappers may set traps and snares on state and federal lands. Traps may not be set within 50 feet of any designated public trail or within 300 feet of any designated trailhead, public campground or picnic area. Also, killing traps with a jaw spread between7.5 and 9 inches set on public land cannot be placed more than 50 feet from a permanent or seasonal water source.

It is illegal to disturb or remove the traps or snares of another person. Individuals that see traps they believe are illegally set should not disturb the trap, but contact Oregon State Police. OSP can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap.

Oregon has about 1,200 licensed trappers. Before becoming licensed, trappers in Oregon must take an education course and pass an exam that deals with topics like wildlife identification, trapping ethics, and setting traps to catch target animals and avoid non-target animals. Those requirements and the Oregon furbearer regulations both incorporate scientific findings on the best management practices for regulated trapping in the United States for animal welfare, trap efficiency, trap selectivity, trapper and public safety, and the practical application of various trap types.

Most trapping seasons opened Nov. 15 or Dec. 1 and end Feb. 28 or March 31. A few seasons are open the entire year, but winter is the most popular time to trap because pelts are in prime condition. Trappers are required to submit an annual report on their efforts, harvest, and wildlife observations, which provides insight on over 16 wildlife species statewide.




Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
(503) 947-6022

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