This time of year, trappers have their traps set for fur-bearing animals. In Nevada, that includes fox, coyote, bobcat, beaver, raccoon, and badger for the most part.
Fur prices are high and there are likely to be traps set on any and all public lands. Any trap set for fox, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, or badger will have some sort of scent lure associated with it and YOUR DOG will find that scent very interesting. You might not smell it but it is guaranteed that your dog will.There are two basic types of traps used for trapping predators that your dog could get caught in.
The long spring trap:
The traps above are duke long spring traps with either two or a single spring that protrudes from the side of the trap body. The chain is used to attach the trap to some kind of anchor point or to a drag. These come in various sizes and anything with a large jaw spread has to have a 3/16 “offset” to the jaws.
Coil spring traps:
The trap above is a Duke #2, offset jaw, coil spring trap. You can see the springs within the body of the trap and those are used to push the levers, on the sides of the trap, up and close the jaws of the trap on the animal’s foot.
It is important to note that NONE of these traps are designed to inflict any real injury to the trapped animal but only to hold it until the trapper can get to it and either harvest it or release it. My own dog has gotten herself caught in a Duke #3 trap, larger than the #2 above. I released her within a few minutes and she had NO INJURY. I have had traps snap shut on my hands as I was setting them and suffered a good sting but NO INJURY.
No trapper wants his trap to catch someone’s dog. There is no gain in it for the trapper and when a dog trips a trap, that trap is out of service until the trapper can get to it and reset it. In addition, the dog and the dog’s owner do tend to get pretty upset when that happens.
So, let’s say you are out in the public lands waking with your dog and it gets caught in a trapper’s trap. Do not panic! Your dog is scared and upset and you are too but, nobody is injured.
Try to calm your dog and release it from the trap. How do you do that? it’s actually very easy! On a long spring trap, push down on the spring(s) with your hands or step on them to push them down and the jaws will fall open:
If it is the coil spring type, push down, or step on, the levers to get the jaws to fall open.
Doing the above will immediately release your pet’s paw from the trap. If you do this within a few minutes, it is just about guaranteed that your pet will be back to sniffing around and exploring within 10 minutes or so and have no ill effects. I speak from experience!
Now, you may be angry that your pet got caught in a trap. I fully understand that but, trappers have the legal right to set their traps within the regulations of the state. In Nevada, those regs can be found on the NDOW website.
One item of misunderstanding has to do with where trappers are allowed to set their traps. Many folks think that every trail and “two track” is off limits but that simply is not true. ONLY those roads designated by the state, county, or city as being roads are off limits and only certain trails are off limits.
Trappers set their traps on the travel routes that their target animals use. In the case of coyote trappers, that means that they will set traps along those “two-track” trails out in the wilderness because coyotes use them when they move from area to area at night. That is perfectly legal as long as the “two-track” is not designated as a road by the state, county, or city. In the case of actual, designated, roads, the traps must be at least 200 feet from the road. Many trappers won’t bother with designated roads because of the difficulty of luring a coyote away from it’s selected path of travel.
Another thing to keep in mind, it is ILLEGAL to take a trapper’s trap! That is theft and you can face serious charges for taking traps. Just release your dog from the trap and leave it setting right where you found it. The trapper will be a bit bummed out about his trap getting set off with nothing to show for it but, so what! He still has his trap and can either reset it there or move it to another location.
How can you find traps before your dog does? You probably can’t! Trappers are careful to set their traps so that they are not seen by the target animal for the most part. You could walk within a foot of a set trap and never even know it. The photo below is of a location where a trap is actually set for coyote:
I hope that folks find this article informative and useful. Like I said before, no trapper wants to catch your dog in a trap. There is nothing good that comes from it. The trapper is trying to make some money in the fur market as best he/she can.