INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A mother and daughter conceded they tampered with a bear trap set up by Nevada Department of Wildlife officials last fall but claimed they did so because they believed it was set illegally.
Cheryl Ann Morrison, of Truckee, and her daughter, Season Morrison, are charged with deliberating tripping a trap set up to catch a nuisance black bear on Oct. 9 near Lake Tahoe. They are the first to be prosecuted under a Nevada law for tampering with a government bear trap
Justice of the Peace E. Alan Tiras delayed a ruling following a daylong hearing Wednesday in Incline Justice Court, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
The women could face fines up to $1,500 if convicted of the misdemeanor offenses.
Prosecutors said NDOW biologists acted properly when they tried to capture a problem black bear. They characterized the women’s action as part of a worrying trend of interference in the state’s effort to keep the public safe.
The Morrisons, along with a third unidentified woman, were captured tampering with the trap on video from a motion-activated camera placed near the trap by state bear biologist Carl Lackey, who testified there had been a spate of recent cases of trap tampering.
The mother and daughter testified Wednesday they decided to take action after reading posts that the trap set outside a residence on Incline’s Fairview Boulevard was within 200 feet of a public road and thus in violation of state law.
“My primary concern was it was set illegally,” said Season Morrison, 35, of Reno. “I did trigger that trap.”
Defense counsel Bradley Paul Elley said the women were acting within the law.
But Deputy District Attorney Amos Stege and state wildlife officials said the law cited by the defense pertains to steel leg-hold traps used to catch bobcats, minks and other fur-bearing animals, not large culvert traps designed to capture bears.