Reports of using live animals as bait in trapping prompt calls for new law

2014-05-11T05:00:00Z 2014-05-11T16:22:05Z Reports of using live animals as bait in trapping prompt calls for new lawJim Holland Journal staff Rapid City Journal
May 11, 2014 5:00 am  • 

State game officials say it's time to outlaw the use of live mammals as bait in trapping fur-bearing animals.

And representatives from trapping and fur-harvesting organizations in the state agree.

"We were appalled that there isn't a law on the books and that it was even allowed," said Anna Hermanson of Newell, president of the South Dakota Trapping Association. "Everybody pretty much agreed that live animals should not be used for bait."

Reports of live animals — including domestic cats, rabbits and birds — used to bait coyote and bobcat traps prompted the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission to propose a ban at its May meeting.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for the commission's next meeting in Yankton on June 5.

Keith Fisk of Pierre, wildlife damage program administrator with GF&P, said the department mulled prohibiting the use of live mammals in traps after investigating increasing reports of the activity in the northern Black Hills. Some cage traps have a small compartment where a live animal can be placed as bait to entice a fur-bearer.

"Most of the complaints we’ve heard, we’ve got people hiking or walking in the Hills and they come across a small cat in a trap that hasn’t been fed or watered for several days and it becomes a humane issue," Fisk said.

"It’s been going on for several years and we just decided to address that issue," he said.

Larry Bowden of Hot Springs, president of the Western South Dakota Fur Harvesters, said the organization wanted to be the first to oppose the use of live bait for trapping.

"We are against the use of live bait. We see no need for it. It doesn’t appear to be humane," Bowden said. "I’m a lifelong trapper, been trapping for over 50 years, I don’t see the need for it or know anyone that would."

Hermanson said she has also heard reports of live bait being used for trapping.

"As you get new trappers ... who aren’t aware of the norms of trapping or ethical trapping practices, you’re going to get behavior that’s not reflective of what trappers promote or what trappers would normally do," she said.

Fisk said a steady rise in the prices paid for bobcat pelts in the past three or four years could compel an inexperienced or unscrupulous trapper to use live bait.  

"As fur prices have increased for bobcats over the past three or four years, we’ve seen an increased number of people pursuing those critters, and sometimes those individuals are more novice trappers or people who aren’t real frequent trappers," Fisk said.

According to the North American Fur Auctions website, buyers from Russia and China kept demand for furs high in 2012-2013, with a cold winter in China only adding to the demand.

Prices paid for bobcats peaked in 2012-2013 with 295 pelts sold in South Dakota fetching an average of $373. More than half of the 619 bobcats taken that season were sold out of state or in Canada and brought even higher prices, Fisk said.

"The last few years the bobcat market has just been extremely hot," Fisk said. "The fur market is so dynamic and there’s so many international players, it depends on what the fashion market is in other countries."

Bowden said prices have eased 30-40 percent from last year's peak. He said the WSDFH stresses the role that hunting and trapping plays in wildlife conservation.

"We have a spring and fall convention each year with youth trapper education classes. We want to teach them how to do it right in the most humane way possible, and we stress the responsibility of setting traps and checking traps," he said.

"A lot of our membership do predator control for ranchers, harvest coyotes and foxes that might be affecting their livelihood, eating their calves and sheep," he said.

The SDTA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. Both organizations promote what trappers call Best Management Practices.

"We like to promote ethics and sound trapping practices and (use of live animals for bait) is not something we would stand behind," Hermanson said. "Both organizations favor (a ban) and most trappers favor it."

Fisk isn't surprised to have both organizations on board in favor of a ban.

"Anything that portrays trapping in a bad light, that’s not good for anybody," he said. "They want to be responsible and have a good public image so that’s why they’re supporting it. It’s just the right thing to do."

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. CTNewton
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    CTNewton - December 16, 2014 11:53 pm
    It's wrong!!!!
  2. theoldman
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    theoldman - May 17, 2014 10:58 pm
    "liberal mentality"; "failed logic"; I must say candidly that these quasi-political terms/statements do not fit in this issue: the issue is humane treatment. humans purport to be above the animals but, unfortunately, rarely my opinion.
  3. kingsize61
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    kingsize61 - May 17, 2014 3:57 am
    People/humans are only concerned making money no matter what!leave those animals alone and stop wearing fur in any kind!
  4. B-Rock
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    B-Rock - May 16, 2014 9:04 am
    I'm also against trapping in the traditional methods. I could tolerate the use of live traps that do not cause injury if they are checked every 24 hours. I hunt only a few species and overall agree with the practice of hunting which dispatches the animal promptly, not after days of fear and pain. But this liberal mentality, "ban all fur trade;" in my eyes, that's worse than trapping. Have you any clue how many tons of animal carcasses would be rotting in landfills if there was a ban on furs? Do you feel the same way about leather, or do you just pick and choose which animal species' carcasses are utilized or wasted in a landfill? Are you aware of how many animals are slaughtered daily in the USA? If wikipedia's reference to 9 billion per year is accurate, that's about 24.6 million animals each day. Any ban would only boost the unregulated black market for animal skin. You can't suggest that Team America: World Police enact a global ban on the fur trade and in the next sentence remind us that laws aren't going to help. Your failed logic reminds me of the 'common sense' gun control advocates that think criminals will all surrender and turn over their firearms if we pass just one more gun law that puts further restrictions on the law-abiding citizens.
  5. janepo
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    janepo - May 15, 2014 5:56 pm
    There are so many things wrong with trapping and baiting. First this is not a sport, this is a cruel terrifying end of life for the animal that gets caught in a steel trap or a snare. Have we not evolved at all spiritually, emotionally or sensibly? Let nature be. Don't harm or abuse animals for what you call "sport". Take 2 seconds and imagine your arm in that trap not knowing what might approach while you suffer severe pain and maybe your death will take hours maybe days that you lay there in severe pain and fear and starve to death. I believe that the harm we do on this earth does not go unnoticed after our death. Please stop torturing animals. Its inhumane.
  6. bekindtoanimals
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    bekindtoanimals - May 15, 2014 12:07 pm
    What needs to happen is ban all fur trade! No one in this world should feel good about wearing an animals fur. The days are long gone where man depended on furs to keep them alive in the winter months. To promote fur as a fashion statement is absolutely appauling and the rich people that create the demand are so far detached from reality it is ridiculous. Until furs are not a part of "fashion" trapping will never stop becausae there is too much money to be made by the trappers. How about we, the United States, take a stand and do the RIGHT thing and outlaw all trapping and make it illegal to sell fur anywhere in the world. Laws aren't going to help the innocent animals who are still going to be caught in traps, in horrific pain and eventually killed in some brutal manner to preserve the friggin fur. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right.” ~ Martin Luther King; "Animals cannot speak, but can you and I not speak for them and represent them? Let us all feel their silent cry of agony and let us all help that cry to be heard in the world." ~Rukmini Devi Arundale
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    MARC DANIELS - May 13, 2014 10:55 pm
    I will NOT be spending any tourist dollars in South Dakota unless trapping is totally banned and I will be spreading the word.
  8. mals4ever
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    mals4ever - May 13, 2014 8:43 pm
    I hate trapping, it is a barbaric practice that needs to be outlawed everywhere. To allow an animals to suffer for 2 days or 3 and sometimes even longer before the trap is checked is inhumane in every way. I agree with Jim Stewart on this, if a hunter wants to trap it should be mandatory to be in a trap themselves to see how it feels first. My hearts breaks for all the animals that die a slow death in agony in these traps. And it is not always the prey you are hoping for. How many of our domestic pets have to be caught in these or someone's child before they are outlawed forever? At the very least EVERY trap should be required to have a name and contact number on it in case someone comes across one with their neighbors cat or dog in it & want to contact the so called human who set the trap.
  9. Williamhuard
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    Williamhuard - May 13, 2014 7:04 am
    A couple of things are striking. You know there is a problem with outdated backward wildlife policy when trappers agree with wildlife advocates. Second- I am always skeptical when someone refers to an animal as a "critter"
  10. Report Abuse
    - May 11, 2014 7:40 pm

    On this I'm with you 100%. I could not agree more.
  11. Jim Stewart
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    Jim Stewart - May 11, 2014 5:42 pm
    I take back my remark that anyone who wishes to trap should spend 24 hours with their hand or foot caught in trap. They should spend 48 hours (east river) or 72 hours (west river) caught in the trap with no food or water. Sample the same terror your prey endures.

    According to SD Game and Fish web site: Traps, including snares, must be checked prior to midnight of the second full calendar day (from the time the trap was initially set or last checked) east of the Missouri River and prior to midnight of the third full calendar day west of the Missouri River. Any animal caught must be removed.
  12. Shorty
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    Shorty - May 11, 2014 3:00 pm
    I don't agree with Jim Stewart on anything in these comment sections. I am proud to say I agree with him 100% on this. That picture just makes me mad.
  13. Taylor
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    Taylor - May 11, 2014 2:53 pm
    Senseless, brutal, despicable. This is a practice that ought to be outlawed. If I found someone's traps I'd be tempted to rearrange them.
  14. Wayne Gilbert
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    Wayne Gilbert - May 11, 2014 2:41 pm
    And why was time that could have been used to sedate and release the animal wasted by taking photographs?
  15. Wayne Gilbert
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    Wayne Gilbert - May 11, 2014 2:32 pm
    I don't disagree with GF&P that a new law would be fine, but I think existing law about cruelty to animals supports prosecution of these inhumane and inhuman "trappers." Do it GF&P!! Take a case and get the state's attorney to prosecute. And when he or she gets convicted, push for jail time--it's only a misdemeanor until July 1, but still worth pursuing.
  16. theoldman
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    theoldman - May 11, 2014 11:00 am
    A first: I strongly agree with Jim Stewart!
  17. jvbehr
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    jvbehr - May 11, 2014 9:48 am
    Heart-breaking and sickening photo--and practice.
  18. Jim Stewart
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    Jim Stewart - May 11, 2014 9:19 am
    That picture of the cat with its foot caught in a trap reinforces my belief that trapping is barbaric. Anyone who wishes to trap should spend 24 hours with their hand or foot in the same trap.
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