ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A committee appointed by the Alaska Board of Game is investigating the problem of pets caught by trappers' snares.
Public comments are being taken on the issue until Nov. 1.
The Southcentral Trapping and Recreation committee is composed of trappers and recreationists. The panel wants to hear from people who have had pets caught in traps along trails in Southcentral Alaska, as well as trappers who have had run-ins with hikers or skiers.
''We're really not sure how much of a problem it is,'' said Julie Maier, a Board of Game member and the committee's chair. ''That's why we've put out notice to get feedback from the public.''
The committee was established last spring when the Game Board shelved a proposal by Anchorage attorney Kneeland Taylor to close trapping along trails or roads throughout much of Southcentral's populated regions. Rather than vote on the proposal, the board opted to set up a panel to study the issue and suggest solutions.
The group is working from a list of 22 trails or areas stretching from Hatcher Pass to Seward. The areas include include the Exit Glacier Road and trail, the Lost Lake Trail, Johnson Pass and the Resurrection Pass trail system.
Michele Keck, another committee member who works for Defenders of Wildlife in Anchorage, said the group's approach is unusual for wildlife disputes in Alaska. ''Both sides are coming together and talking through it,'' Keck told the Anchorage Daily News.
Bob Green, president of the Alaska Frontier Trappers Association, said most trappers he knows don't set traps close to houses or trails.
Green, whose group represents about 200 Mat-Su trappers, said he hopes areas don't get closed to trapping as a result of the committee's work. Most problems are caused by young or inexperienced trappers, or ''weekend warriors'' who don't take the time to set traps away from main trails, he said. Green said he would support a mandatory class for all trappers as a condition for getting a license.
George Peck, a committee member from Seward, said he has two friends whose dogs were caught in traps near roads or trails. One of the dogs died. Peck concedes he doesn't know how widespread the problem is, but said he'd like to see trappers register the locations of their traps so people can avoid them.
The Municipality of Anchorage, Eklutna and parts of Chugach State Park are closed to trapping. Parts of the Kenai Peninsula, mostly around larger towns, also are closed. Many popular trails, however, are open to trapping.
Written comments to the committee may be sent to: Margaret Edens, Executive Director, Board Support Section, P.O. Box 25526, Juneau, 99802.
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