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Refuge readies for trapping season, hosts workshops

Posted: October 18, 2012 - 5:33pm  |  Updated: October 18, 2012 - 6:01pm

As the furbearer trapping season is nearly upon us, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge will soon be issuing trapping permits. In addition to State trapping requirements, I’d like to remind trappers that the permit entails other responsibilities to consider while trapping on the Refuge. For the benefit of the trapping public, I’ll address the use of cubbies, mandatory trap checks and trap tags, and prohibition of sight-exposed baits.

Under a special use permit, trapping is permitted on most Refuge lands except the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area (SWRA) and around the Kenai Refuge headquarters, as depicted on a map available at our office on Ski Hill Road and online at our website (http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/map_TrappingRegs.pdf). Additionally, trapping is prohibited within one mile of public roads, campgrounds, and road accessible trailheads. However, trapping for mink and muskrat is allowed in these areas, outside of the SWRA and Headquarters areas, using only leghold traps 1½ or smaller and 110 or 120 conibears.

The use of cubbies and/or flag sets, popular and effective when lynx season is open, are not allowed when the lynx season is closed. To clarify, a cubby is any enclosure, whether natural or constructed of natural and/or manmade material, with an opening, hole, or crevice on one or both ends, that is used in association with a trap or trap set(s). A flag set is the use of a visual attractant, whether manmade or natural, placed so that it has the potential to attract animals to the trap. On the Refuge, a cubby with an opening less than 6 inches by 6 inches utilizing leg hold traps 1½ or smaller and/or a 120 or smaller body grip (Conibear-style) and/or a snare, is allowed at any time during the trapping season.

The trap check regulation is in place to avoid and reduce the take of nontarget species such as eagles, great horned owls and magpies, which is counter productive to the trapping effort as it removes that trap’s availability for its intended species. Frequent checking of your trap reduces the theft of animals, predation by other animals, and slippage of the fur. It also ensures the humane take of the legal species as well as timely removal of uninjured nontarget species. Finally, it gives the trapper an opportunity to check if the trap is still operational.

The Refuge also mandates a trap tag. The trap tag regulation ensures that trappers are responsible for the traps and snares they are placing on public lands. It also provides for resource protection from illegal trapping methods and means.

To reduce the take of nontarget species that hunt by sight (such as eagles), traps and snares are prohibited within 30 feet of sight-exposed baits. Bait means any lure or attractant composed of mammal, bird, or fish, flesh, fur, hide, entrails, or feathers. Sight-exposed means visible from any angle when viewed from a height of 3 feet or greater at a distance of 30 feet or less. The restriction on exposed bait does not apply to a single dried wing used as a flag in conjunction with a cubby set, as long as no trap is located outside of the cubby.

Finally, an accurately completed furbearer harvest report must be submitted to the Refuge Manager no later than June 15, 2013. These data help us manage furbearer harvests in a way that ensures sustainable populations for the future over the 2 million acres encompassed by the Refuge.

Trapping orientation is mandatory for anyone wishing to trap on the refuge. The orientation class is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26 from 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. A snaring seminar is being offered on Saturday, October, 27 from 9 a.m. – noon for those looking to expand the trap check requirement dates from every four days to seven days. Both classes are taught by experienced trappers willing to share their knowledge and know-how with those who want to learn more. These classes need only be taken once in a lifetime, but you are welcome to attend as many times as you’d like to stay current on trapping techniques and Refuge regulations.

Kelly Modla is a law enforcement officer at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. You can find more information about the Refuge at http://kenai.fws.gov or http://www.facebook.com/kenainationalwildliferefuge.

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