FAIRBANKS — With November only days away, I think this is a good time to review issues related to trapping that seem to manifest each year. Some of the recent high profile issues about trapping in other areas of the state are commonly investigated here in the Interior as well. Some of the topics mentioned hereafter are a good reminder to trappers and non-trappers alike. I am Sgt. David Bump with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Fairbanks and can be reached at 451-5348 or david.bump@alaska.gov.

One of the most common scenarios that plays out in the Interior is conflict between trappers and non-trappers. Someone out walking, skijoring, mushing, or hunting with a canine companion finds said companion caught in a trap of some type. With any luck, the owner is able to free the canine with minimal to no injury to owner or canine. The owner calls the troopers to report someone is trapping too close to town with unmarked traps. This owner is usually very upset when I tell them that trapping is open on most lands even near commonly used trails (private lands or city ordinances aside) and that at least here (in Game Management Unit 20), trappers are not required to place name tags on traps. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has prepared a brochure to assist canine owners in removing a trap in the above scenario. It is online at http://1.usa.gov/1OezBJW. If you have questions about removing the traps shown in this brochure, call me. I or one of our wildlife troopers can show you how to operate all of the above with some hands on experience.

Another common scenario includes interfering with lawful trapping. Someone, commonly a fellow trapper competing for the same trap line, believes that a trapper should not have set a trap where they did and either steals it or renders the trap incapable of catching an animal. If this occurs on public land, a person has interfered with trapping. There are some exceptions to this pertaining to private land and traps sets without the private landowner’s permission (see AS16.05.790 for further information).

One of the most frustrating problems for trappers is the theft of animals from their traps.  A trapper can go through a lot of effort to be away from town, to set traps away from non-consumptive and consumptive resource users, only to find someone has traveled the line and stolen the animals from their traps. It only takes a couple wolves or half a dozen marten to reach a felony amount in terms of theft. Equally as frustrating is the theft of the traps themselves. This theft, too, can easily add up to a felony amount with the theft of just a few traps.

Lastly, it really does take far more than the $15 license fee to be considered a trapper. Know the regulations, adhere by the Code of Ethics on the back cover of the regulation booklet, and find some old time trappers here in the Interior to give you some pointers or tips for safety and effectiveness.

Sgt. David Bump is an Alaska Wildlife Trooper stationed in Fairbanks and can be reached by email at david.bump@alaska.gov or by telephone at 451-5348.