ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Traps placed near trails have nearly claimed the lives of some Alaskan's pets, and now the Anchorage Assembly is considering a ban on trapping near public pathways in Anchorage.
The proposed ordinance would create prohibited trapping zones in the municipality within 50 yards of developed or public use trails and within a quarter of a mile of trailheads, campgrounds and permanent dwellings. The ordinance would also require traps and snares to be marked with the trapper's identification.
Advocates say the ordinance would keep both pets and people safer. Opponents say the ordinance steps beyond the Municipality's authority.
Girdwood resident Amanda Clayton knows firsthand the shock of having a dog caught in a trap while it was off leash.
"All of a sudden we heard this animal cry, and we looked at each other super puzzled trying to figure out 'what was that?' It almost sounded like a fox cry. The high-pitch, almost ferrell sound, and all of a sudden Derek's like 'No, that's Loki and she's caught in something,'" Clayton said. "So we started running back down the trail maybe 20 yards and she was about 15 feet off the very wide, established trail with this trap around her neck and she could barely breath."
The dog was rescued with minimal injuries, but the ordeal left its mark on Clayton.
"I've grown up here in Alaska. My dad did trapping. I have nothing against it. We had traps in the house and he'd show us how to use them, but I had never seen a conibear trap, which is what around her neck," Clayton said. "It's frustrating and kind of maddening that this trap was so close to an established trail."
A spokesperson for the Alaska Trappers Association says there are better ways to reduce problems with pets in traps and that the proposed ordinance is illegal.
"The authority to regulate trapping is vested with the Alaska Board of Game and municipal governments can't just overrule that authority other than on their own municipal property," Pete Buist with ATA said. "We certainly believe in other courses of action. ATA clearly recognizes that there are areas that are not appropriate for trapping, just like Fish and Game do."
Buist says the trappers association has developed educational programs for both trappers and dog owners that have helped reduce the frequency of pets being caught in traps in other parts of the state.
"And of course the number one thing that we advocate is that dog owners obey the leash laws," Buist added.
A hearing on the proposed ordinance on the Anchorage Assembly agenda for Tuesday.