Nearly all upland hunters will tell you that dog-killing body-grip strangulation traps, snares and dog tongue-catching tube traps have no place on Walk-In Access (WIA) pheasant and waterfowl hunting lands in southwest Minnesota.
Yet in a recent conversation during the first weekend of Game Fair in Ramsey, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said these traps will be allowed on WIA lands.
His rationale, along with that of trapping groups such as the Minnesota Trapping Association (MTA), is that landowners can do whatever they want about the types of traps used on their lands regarding their WIA lease with the DNR.
However, in any property lease arrangement, there is one universal expectation of the user— be it leased land, an apartment or condominium — and that is public safety.
Unfortunately, the DNR apparently doesn’t consider this an important consideration.
One hunter from Elk River I spoke to at Game Fair has a different view. His foot was broken in three places when he stepped into a beaver-sized body-grip Conibear while hunting a wetland.
Another hunter from Oronoco shared with me, also at Game Fair, how a Conibear snapped his 6-month-old wirehaired pointer’s neck in two. That dog owner never had a chance to use the zip tie kit the MTA claims will help release a dog from such a trap.
And a woman at Game Fair shared how her neighbor’s springer spaniel was pulled out of a Conibear but died two days later from a resulting weakened and ruptured neck artery.
Each of these dog owners filled out a survey card at Game Fair, along with comments, to be sent to the governor, along with about 800 others.
We hunters deserve better from the DNR, and we can only hope Gov. Dayton will show the compassion that is lacking in the agency and overrule the lethal trapping policy the DNR has adopted for Walk-In Access lands in 2014.
Kevin Auslund is president of Sportsmen Take Action (www.sportsmentakeaction.org).