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Owner of injured dog calls for trapping-law reform

 

By Dylan J. Darling

The Bend Bulletin, 2/25/12

 

A West Linn man whose dog nearly died in an otter trap along the Metolius

River earlier this month is calling for trapping-law reform.

 

Jack Williamson, 57, said he wants Oregon lawmakers to require trappers to

mark the locations of their traps or face a misdemeanor penalty. Currently,

he said, traps can be concealed on public land, even close to trails.

"It think it is just criminal," he said.

 

On Feb. 11, Williamson was walking back to his car, which was parked at the

Wizard Falls fish hatchery, when his dog, Kieri, became stuck in an

instant-kill trap designed to capture otters and beavers. The trap strangled

the 37-pound wheaten terrier, rendering her unconscious.

 

A hatchery worker helped free the dog, whom Williamson revived with

mouth-to-snout resuscitation.

 

Williamson added a petition earlier this week to a website telling Kieri's

story at kieri.org/friends-of-kieri-petition. He said he plans to collect

35,000 signatures as part of an effort to change Oregon's trapping rules. As

of late Friday afternoon, the petition had garnered 150 signatures.

If the online effort demonstrates sufficient support for change, Williamson

said he plans to pursue a ballot initiative - for which he'd again collect

signatures - or a meeting with state Sen. Chris Telfer, a Republican from

Bend who represents Deschutes County.

 

"I want to go right to one of our representatives and right to the

Legislature," he said.

 

Any change to state law would have to come next year, as lawmakers are close

to ending this year's short session, Telfer said Friday. She said she hadn't

heard of Williamson's petition or talked to him. "He hasn't called me yet," she said.

 

Williamson's 8-year-old pooch is among a half dozen dogs reported to have

been caught in traps around Central Oregon in the last 11 weeks, said Steven

George, district wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and

Wildlife in Bend.

 

He said one or two dogs typically end up in traps during trapping season in

Central Oregon, which runs from November to March. Several factors may be

responsible for this year's increase, said George and other state officials

familiar with trapping. These include minimal snowfall, which has allowed

greater access to public lands where traps are placed; high gas prices,

which discourage trappers from driving far from town; and inexperienced

trappers trying the sport.

 

Bill Gilman, president of the Oregon Trappers Association, did not

immediately respond to emails from The Bulletin sent Thursday and Friday.

In recent weeks the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received

about a dozen comments, and its Bend office has received 10 to 15 calls

about trapping rules, said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the agency.

Some of the calls and comments asked the ODFW to restrict trapping on public

land where there are other forms of recreation and to require the marking of

traps.

 

Dennehy said the comments will be considered by the Fish and Wildlife

Commission, which revisits trapping rules for ODFW every two years, when it

meets June 7 and 8 in Salem. Dennehy said there will also be a chance for

people to speak out about trapping at the meeting.

"It's a public forum," Dennehy said.

 

Williamson said he planned to talk to ODFW officials to learn more about how

to participate in the meeting.