In Idaho, it is legal to set traps and snares for wolves, coyotes, foxes, bobcats and several other animals with most trapping occurring in fall and winter. The current law allows a trap or snare to be set as close as 5 feet from the centerline of a hiking trail. For anyone who walks a dog – even on a leash – that is clearly not a sufficient distance to protect the pet. In addition, trappers may apply a strong-smelling substance near their traps to attract the species they are targeting and dogs may investigate this scent. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, more than 50 dogs were caught in traps in Idaho in 2013.

What Should I Do If My Dog Does Become Caught in a Trap?

Leg-hold traps are usually not fatal if they can be released in a timely manner. But pets caught in leg-hold traps can become frightened, panic and bite their owners who are trying to release them so cover your dog’s head with a jacket to prevent it from biting you. Pets caught in snares can quickly suffocate and require immediate extrication. As a precaution, Fish and Game recommends taking the following items with you when you go out with your dog:

  1. A heavy duty Felco cable cutters to cut snares
  2. A 6′ length of rope or leash on hand to use as a pulley to open body gripping traps.

Fish and Game has also posted videos for dog owners on recognizing and avoiding traps and releasing your pet from a trap.  Be sure to report any incident to your local Fish and Game office.

What’s the Solution?

While knowing how to release your dog quickly can help minimize injuries and trauma, the very best way to avoid this whole situation is to increase the minimum distance that traps can be set next to trails.  After years of discussions, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering increasing the minimum set-back distance that traps and snares can be set from trails, trailheads, campground and picnic areas. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering increasing the minimum set-back distance that traps can be set from trails from 5 feet from the center of maintained, public trail to ten feet from the edge of a trail. In addition, Fish and Game is proposing a 300′ setback from any designated public campground, trailhead, paved rail or picnic area.

What You Can Do

Idaho Department of Fish and Game deadline for accepting comments was Oct 24, 2018. Sign up for our email list for more ways to Take Action!