Trapping season for the Kenai Peninsula opens Monday and in preparation for those who will be trapping on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the KNWR held their annual trapper orientation program last Thursday at the Kenai River Center.
The orientation was divided into several sections, including furbearer biology, state and federal regulations governing trapping, trapping ethics and methods, and skin preparation, including discussion on skinning, fleshing, drying and marketing furs.
More than 50 people attended, including men, women and children. A show of hands revealed the vast majority of attendees would be trapping for the first time.
"To trap on the KNWR, in addition to a valid trapping license, a permit obtained from the refuge manager is also required," said Gary Titus, a refuge employee and a longtime proponent of trapping.
"In addition, all trapping permit holders are required to submit a harvest report -- whether they trapped or not."
Trappers spend a lot of time on their traplines, and their observations can provide valuable information about furbearers and other wildlife.
"Refuge managers use the information to assist in wildlife management. So, anyone who does not submit a report will be denied a trapping permit the following year," Titus said.
Trapping reports are due to the refuge by June 15 of the year the season closes. Reports submitted after June 15, but before Aug. 15 will be considered late.
Trappers who do not submit a report by Aug. 15 will not be eligible for a permit for the following trapping season.
"Late reporting of activities is a chronic problem for many trapping permit holders," said Liz Jozwiak, a refuge biologist.
During the orientation she discussed how the trapping reports are used and gave a summary of the 2002-03 season.
Jozwiak said the refuge issued 51 permits during the 2002-03 season. Thirty-seven permittees returned their harvest reports; 14 did not. Nineteen of the 51 did not trap on the refuge. Two permittees who reported trapping on the refuge were unsuccessful. The remaining 16 trappers succeeded in harvesting 20 mink, 14 coyotes, 47 beaver, four wolves, 15 otter, 13 muskrat, 26 weasel and three marten.
"The refuge will again this year be purchasing skinned carcasses of radio-collared or ear-tagged animals," Jozwiak said.
Prices paid for the carcasses are between $50 and $100, depending on if the skull is attached to the skinned carcass.
Jim Neely, a federal park ranger, clarified one important issue, which was that trappers who catch animals with tags or radio collars -- whether selling the carcasses or not -- have three days to report to the refuge and five days to return these items.
"Not the animal, just the tags and radio collars," he said.
Neely also said lynx trapping will be closed again this year.
"Which means cubby and flag sets are not allowed," he said in regard to two specific trapping methods used primarily for harvest of lynx.
Brent Johnson, an Alaska State Trooper with the Bureau of Wildlife Management, also pointed out one regulation that wasn't in the book.
"In addition to the areas closed to trapping in Units 7 and 15 that are listed in the regulations, trapping is also closed within the city limits of Kenai," Johnson said.
Larry Lewis, a Fish and Game wildlife technician, discussed ways to reduce the chances of incidental catches, such as moose.
He strongly recommended anyone who accidentally catches a moose in a trap or a snare to contact Fish and Game, the refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or state troopers immediately so they can safely address the issue and release the moose.
"Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to release a moose themselves," Lewis said.
For assistance with incidental catches, contact Fish and Game at 262-9368, the refuge at 262-7021, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 262-4573 or state troopers at 262-4453.
Anyone interested in trapping should obtain a copy of the 2003-04 Alaska Trapping Regulations book and contact the refuge for a full list of rules and regulations.
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