Game board calls for identification on residential traplines

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Traps set out in residential areas around Fairbanks must now be marked with identification tags, under a new ruling by the Alaska Board of Game.

The board approved the measure Tuesday to address a long-standing conflict between pet owners and trappers.

''Will it discourage people from setting traps on paved bike trails?'' asked Julie Maier, the lone Fairbanks representative on the seven-person game board. ''Yes, because we'll know who they are.''

Maier, whose pet dog was caught in a trap near her house, was the most vocal supporter of the tagging requirement, even though she is a novice trapper.

The vote was 4-3 in favor of the identification requirement, which will apply only to traps in the Fairbanks Management Area, a large chunk of land that encompasses most urban areas. Trapping is banned within Fairbanks city limits.

Longtime trapper Ron Long wasn't happy with the board's decision, although he agreed something must be done about traps being set in areas frequented by pets can get caught.

Long, one of the founders of the Alaska Trappers Association, said the decision is yet another defeat in the war against animal-rights groups that want to put a clamp on trapping.

Trappers will be required to mark their traps with a permanent metal tag that displays one of three IDs: name and address, Alaska driver's license number or state identification number.

Trappers have resisted an identification requirement on traps or traplines because they say anti-trappers can use the information to sabotage traplines or frame trappers by moving their traps to illegal locations. In their testimony to the board, several trappers referred to those acts as ''eco-terrorism.''

That argument didn't sway Maier. Trappers in most Lower 48 states are required to identify their traps, she said.

''There's a lot more people down there, and there's probably a lot more eco-terrorists down there,'' she said. ''Most eco-terrorists probably don't even know how to set a trap.''

Board member George Matz of Anchorage downplayed the possibility of sabotage, also. A bigger threat is the black eye trappers get each time a dog is caught in a trap, he said.

''If you don't give in a little every now and then, that can put you at the risk of losing everything,'' Matz said. ''I think that's more of a threat than eco-terrorism.''

Board members Dana Pruhs and Caleb Pungowiyi voted against trap identification. They said it wouldn't solve the problem of loose dogs, which will be caught in traps whether they are identified or not.

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