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Nevada residents opposed to trapping in parks

The Associated Press

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) – A trapper who caught a cat and a skunk at a busy park has touched off a debate over Nevada laws that don’t prohibit animal traps at municipal parks.

The Nevada Humane Society said it rescued the wet, wounded cat last month from the jaws of a leg-hold at Cottonwood Park along the Truckee River in Sparks. Wildlife officials shot the skunk.

Since then, Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung said she’s received more than 300 e-mails and phone calls from residents expressing opposition to trapping in parks or other populated areas.

“As a taxpayer, I want to walk safely with my animal and my children on public land and not have to worry about walking through a land mine of traps,” said Geraldine Ruger, a member of the U.S. Humane Society.

Washoe County commissioners have invited the Nevada Trappers Association and TrailSafe Nevada to negotiate possible new trapping restrictions.

Any proposal would have to be approved by the Nevada Wildlife Commission. The new rules could mark the first time that populated areas off-limits to shooting in Nevada also would be off-limits to trapping.

The Humane Society says eight states ban leg-hold traps.

“Maybe it’s time for Washoe County to lead the state of Nevada to end this 19th century barbaric practice,” said Washoe County animal control board member Elaine Carrick.

Nevada has about 1,000 trappers who reported taking 9,744 animals for their pelts in the winter of 2008-09, according to a Reno newspaper. No figures were available for the most recent winter.

In Washoe County last winter, trappers took 727 beavers, muskrats, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, minks, badgers, raccoons and skunks, the newspaper reported.

Joel Blakesby, president of Nevada Trappers Association, said he satisfied himself from a Google search that no child has ever been caught and injured in a trap.

He said the traps used at Cottonwood Park were too small to capture a child’s foot.

A state game warden cited the Fernley trapper who set the leg holds at Cottonwood Park, but he wasn’t ticketed for working in a public park. Instead, he was cited for setting traps within 200 feet of a road and placing a can of tuna as bait too close to a trap.

Reno hiker Lang Milligan said he’s encountered animal traps on his outings.

“Not a very pretty picture,” he wrote Jung in an e-mail. “I have had children with me, and that impression remains with them for a lifetime. They ask me why people would do such a thing.”


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