March 1st 2019

An Anchorage hunter is warning people about traps on state land after his dog was killed in a snare.

It happened on a mixed-use trail behind the water treatment facility near Palmer.

Corey, who asked KTVA not to use his last name in this story for safety reasons, took his dog Walter to go hunting. He chose that area because it’s a place where it’s legal to have dogs off leash.

“My favorite thing about him was his love for life. He woke up every day and wanted to go out hunting,” Corey said about his 3-year-old German wire-haired pointer.

They were coming back from a day of hunting for small game when Corey said Walter let out a squeal.

“I knew something was off,” Corey said.

He followed the GPS location on the dog’s collar and found him caught in a snare.

“It lifted his front end off the ground, and basically he hung by the snare. I got to him, undid the snare and he was dead by the time I got to him,” Corey said.

He posted a sign with pictures of Walter to alert trappers what had happened to the dog. Corey said he didn’t know that was an area where people can set traps. Legally, trappers don’t have to put up signs alerting other trail users that traps and snares are in the area.

“We spent three years training my dog, thousands of dollars. He was a big part of our family and here he was taken away from us in a way in which I feel I could not have prevented,” Corey said.

The trapping industry has deep roots in the state. Every year Alaskans celebrate its history at the Fur Rendezvous winter carnival.

“Before we had oil, we had fur,” said Pete Buist, the spokesman for the Alaska Trappers Association (ATA).

Buist said trappers know there can be conflicts with other trail users, so the ATA put together an informational video about 10 years ago.

There’s also a code of ethics written on the back of the trapping regulations manual that asks people to trap responsibly.

“Laws not withstanding, common sense dictates you don’t trap on trails that are heavily used by the public,” Buist said.

The video shows the different kinds of traps and how to get a dog free. Buist said trappers never want to intentionally catch dogs.

“Most traps are not designed to kill animals. They’re designed to hold animals, restrain them until the trapper checks the trap and decides if he wants to harvest the animal or let it go,” Buist said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game worked with ATA to put together a booklet of safety tipsfor pet owners that people can take on the trail with them.

“It’s instructional, shows what to do with a couple of different types of traps,” said Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh.

But some snares, like the one that caught Walter, are designed to kill instantly.

Marsh said trappers don’t have to label their traps, and many don’t because they’re worried their gear will get stolen or tampered with.

“If people are in an area where they think traps shouldn’t be set or they think regulations should change, they can submit a proposal to the Board of Game,” Marsh said.

He suggests people keep their dogs on a leash or keep them within sight during the winter trapping season.

As a hunter himself, Corey said he has no problem with the trapping industry but would like to see a law that requires traps to be labeled. Dog owners can’t look out for their pets if they don’t know traps are nearby.

“I could assure that my dog was by my side and not go over there,” Corey said. “As he was, he was out looking for game.”

A wildlife trooper checking the traps said all were placed legally and had legal bait in them.

Corey hopes the warning sign he put up will be enough to alert others so their pets won’t suffer the same fate.



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