Trapped in conflict — Dog owners seek trapping restrictions from Board of Game

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Trappers, plus dog owners, plus trails and other public-use recreation areas from Cooper Landing to Seward, equal a contentious situation. One which the Alaska Board of Game will try to solve in its meeting in Anchorage this week.

Public testimony was taken over the weekend regarding two proposals to ban trapping from Cooper Landing to Seward on or within 250 feet of private land, within 250 feet of public trails, trail heads, associated parking lots, roads and campgrounds, and in certain special areas, including beaches along Kenai Lake and the Cooper Landing “organic dump.”

The board started deliberations Sunday afternoon after public testimony wrapped up. It was scheduled to address the trapping ban, as wells as a slate of other Kenai Peninsula proposals and the rest of its business pertaining to the Southcentral Region, sometime before its scheduled adjournment Tuesday. But as of Tuesday afternoon, it looked as though deliberations would stretch into Wednesday.

Testimony came both for and against the proposals. Those opposed spoke of wanting to find a solution among the interested parties, without regulations needing to be involved. Randy Zarnke, president of the Alaska Trappers Association, advocates a mutual voluntary approach the group has used in Fairbanks, where the ATA and dog owners identified two popular recreational areas and hung signs advising trappers not to set traps or snares in the area, and advising dog owners of the importance of keeping their pets on leash.

“It relies on efforts from both sides of the issue, the trappers, and the one group that seems to have the biggest conflict is dog owners. And we offered the mutual voluntary approach to the person who submitted (the Cooper Landing proposal). And it was rejected.” Zarnke said.

Tom Lassard, who has trapped in Cooper Landing since 1987, decided to post similar signs in Cooper Landing this winter, and had trappers in the Seward area do the same, despite communications breaking down between he and Ken Green, the author of the Cooper Landing proposal.

Lassard then requested that Green withdraw his proposal, to no avail. Zarnke told the board that he had hoped the trappers association and Green’s Committee for Safe Public Lands and Trails could continue talking about a mutual voluntary approach.

“We feel like we’ve taken what actions we can to ameliorate, reduce, eliminate problems and conflicts, and we’ve seen no response from the other side,” Zarnke said.

Green said he welcomes continued dialogue, but that Lassard ceased talks when he wouldn’t withdraw his proposal.

“Their idea of working together is a bit different than what ours is,” Green said. “There are two different viewpoints — enforceable regulations or informal or verbal agreements. The ATA supports informal agreements and only informal agreements.”

Green, on the other end, said he’s willing to discuss details like closure areas and boundary distances, but is unaccepting of informal agreements. He wants regulations, with consistent, enforceable rules.

“There’s nothing binding about making a verbal agreement. Nobody really knows what the verbal agreement is supposed to be,” he said.

It’s a personal subject for Green, who has had two dogs caught, though not seriously injured, in traps, one at a popular public Kenai Lake beach off Snug Harbor Road, and another farther out that road. The signs, he said, including two at that very beach, are nice, but amount to unenforceable suggestions.

“The signs are advisory signs. They’re not requirements. Nobody has to stick to them if they don’t want to,” Green said.

Bob Ermold, vice president of the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee, testified that the committee does not support the trapping bans, calling them excessive. He thinks education and greater awareness could help the situation, as he doesn’t believe the problems are being caused by the area’s regular, seasoned trappers, but those who get into it when the lynx population booms.

“If these proposals pass, what’s going to happen is you’re going to restrict the diehard trappers, the guys that are out there doing it correctly. And they’re the ones that, in essence, are going to be punished for the actions of what I’m assuming are some of these novice folks that just trapped a little bit on their own,” Ermold said.

One thing both sides can agree on is it’s a difficult situation, as noted by board vice chair Nate Turner.

“You guys have a tough place as trappers dealing with the Kenai Peninsula,” Turner said.

3 Comments

Filed under Cooper Landing, trapping

3 responses to “Trapped in conflict — Dog owners seek trapping restrictions from Board of Game

  1. Dad / Pat

    The law should require trappers to have ID on traps left in the field. There should be laws requiring traps to be set a minimum distance from public trails. All trappers should be required to watch their first born strangle to death in a snare just out of reach! Dirty bastards!

  2. Ken Green (CL-CSPLT)

    There are endless justifications for not regulating trapping reasonably. Many like Mr. Ermold’s are difficult to comprehend: diehard trappers who are trapping correctly will be punished for those who don’t. But that is the way of all regulations – those who misuse a privilege ruin it (to some extent) for others. But that’s life for all of us. Mr. Spraker has argued that setback regulations would make it more difficult to trap alongside roads and trails: trapping is supposed to be a sporting enterprise – Cooper Landing people do not see trapping from pickup trucks and cars along roadsides and from snow machines along trails as very sporting. We view it as laziness and intimidating behavior. Mr. Spraker has also suggested that setbacks would discourage a young trapper who couldn’t afford a snow machine from trapping: if someone young or older is not responsible enough to afford or earn money to buy skis or snowshoes to walk a setback distance from trails or roads, perhaps they shouldn’t be trapping to begin with. The debate goes on but it would appear that the more the ATA and BOG throw up “in denial” defenses, the more harm they will do themselves in the long run.

  3. Dru Sorenson

    Ken Green————-
    Is there anything we can do to get some trapping regulations passed?? Neighbors in Cooper Landing we have a real problem in Hope as well.
    I really do not understand how these outdated trapping regulations can exist. Too many people hike on the Kenai now -trapping is not safe here anymore. No one makes a living trapping on the Kenai much anymore anyway. Its recreation.
    The people that come trap in Hope are generally not Hope residents. Only one I can think of and he just got in trouble a year ago for trapping without a renewed permit. Dogs have been caught in his traps up Palmer Creek.(no one could prove they were his but we know) This is a 2 dog count per person (with a 100 person population)town. With a non Hope resident (except 1 that I know of) trappers population.
    Can we help get something going? Trapping is now a hobby for people not a viable way to make a living on most of the Kenai. Why should hiking trails and dogs and us residents suffer because of someones hobby?
    The ATA can Deny, deny, deny but truth is in the injuries local pets have obtained from traps. And I agree the new trapping is not sporting at all. Bad for the Kenai.
    Let us know what will help keep these traps FAR off public trails and hiking areas. We are a tourist town – visitors have dogs too.
    Sincerely
    Sourdough Dru Main Street Hope Alaska

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