Letter: Against stricter trapping regulations

I would like to respond to the Oct. 2 Letter to the Editor submitted by Michelle Anderson pleading for stricter trapping restrictions. I will keep my focus on Game Management Area 1C, the Juneau area.

First, as a trapper, I can assure all readers that trappers go out of their way to avoid non-target catches at all costs. A trapper has no intention of catching a bird of any kind, a dog or person.

As a trapper, I plead with all dog owners to obey the law and leash your pets while out and about. The only way a pet can encounter a legally set trap is if the owner allows the animal to illegally run at-large. This not only endangers the animal by exposing it to traffic, unintended trap encounters and ice breakthroughs, but it can also stress wildlife in a time they can least afford it, as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has emphasized.

There are safe, designated areas in the City and Borough of Juneau that dogs are allowed off-leash, and I encourage all owners to use them.

Secondly, I would like to address the threat to human safety. The U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service did a study, from 1990-2000, regarding human injuries caused by animal traps. They contacted most major emergency rooms in major hospitals and found exactly 2 injuries. Both were trappers.

There has never been a fatality, let alone a serious injury, to a non-trapper by a legally set trap in all of North America in recorded history.

Lastly, I would like to point out that trappers in the Juneau area participate in an outdoor activity that, with a very few exceptions, occurs during 10 weeks of the worst weather of the year, enduring poor road conditions, cold temperatures and diminishing daylight.

Currently, a trapper cannot set a trap within 1/4 mile of the coast along the entire road system. There are also 18 designated trails that also have a 1/4 mile buffer on each side, with the exception of very small traps that can be set within 50 yards, as long as they are elevated 5 feet off the ground and snow, (meaning in a tree).

This caveat was provided to accommodate those pet owners who refuse to follow the law.

Trappers have money invested in gear that is left unattended in the woods, that they paid for, considerable time invested in trap line management that others enjoy (as in trail clearing, etc.), and a true interest in managing a renewable resource.

In summary, I ask the non-trapping community to respect the legal, traditional pursuit of furbearers by licensed trappers, just as one would respect your neighbor that hunts deer, or your uncle that suffers in an icy duck blind. Or even when you go out to check your crab pot that you set three days ago, hoping nobody else illegally checked it for you.

Barry Brokken,

Past ADFG Advisory Committee member