Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center
9 a.m. -- Welcome and introductions, Larry Lewis, Fish and Game
9:10 a.m. -- Randy Zarnke, Alaska Trapper's Association (ATA)
n ATA overview
n Sharing the trail
9:30 a.m. -- Jeff Selinger, Fish and Game
n Releasing pets from traps and snares
n Breakout session to learn about trap functions
10 a.m. -- Mike Crawford, Kenai Peninsula Trapper's Association (KPTA)
n General trapping overview
n Getting kids involved in safe, ethical trapping
10:30 a.m. -- Break
10:40 a.m. -- Rob Massengill, Fish and Game
n Beaver trapping
11:10 a.m. -- Diane MacLean, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
n Fur handling and grading
11:30 a.m. -- Doug Staller, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
n Skin Sewing and pattern making
Noon -- Outside for lunch and trap set demonstration
1 p.m. -- Ted Spraker, area trapper
n Lynx and wolf trapping
2 p.m. -- Craig Gardner, Fairbanks Fish and Game
n Lynx and wolf snaring
n Break-away snares
n Snare building breakout session
One of the joys of participating in winter outdoor activities on the Kenai Peninsula is that most of the trails in the area are open to everyone, regardless of their recreation of choice. Snowmachiners, mushers, skiers, and those just out snowshoeing or walking with their dog can all share the same trail, but at this time of year, so too can trappers.
As a result, three local organizations -- the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Kenai Peninsula Trapper's Association and the Kenai Peninsula Community Schools Program -- are joining forces this weekend to educate trappers and non-trappers alike, in an effort to avoid conflicts between the two.
"This is the second annual trapping and snaring clinic. Last year's was very successful with attendance higher than we imagined. So we brought it back this year and are hoping it will be even bigger and better," said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game and one of the organizers of the event.
The event will take place Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center. Admission is free and there is no registration necessary.
"The morning sessions are geared toward instruction for those with little or no trapping experience," Lewis said.
Some of the instruction will focus on education and mentoring those interested in pursuing trapping as a hobby or lifestyle.
"You can't be a successful trapper by just walking into the woods and haphazardly setting traps. You have to know about animals and their environment. It's a real challenge matching wits with some of these critters," Lewis said.
Topics for this session will include an introduction to trapping, mentoring youth, making trapping a family activity and understanding regulations.
"A big part of this is mentoring youth. This gives kids a good environment to learn safe and ethical methods," Lewis said.
Professional trappers, wildlife biologists and other experts will also be offering tips on trapping methods, and instructions for fur handling and sewing.
While much of these morning activities will revolve around people hoping to get into trapping, many of the topics will also be directed toward those that want to avoid trapping.
"It'll focus on ways to recognize and help avoid a trapline while engaged in other recreational activities, and how to quickly release a pet from a trap or snare if accidentally caught," Lewis said.
Every season, it seems, a handful of dogs will accidentally be caught in snares, or more commonly conibear traps. Pet owners will often try to pry open the jaws -- which can be difficult to impossible -- rather than applying pressure to the side springs to release the pet before it is too late.
"It's easy, but not if you don't have an understanding of the equipment. Learning how traps work, and that there's springs and retention devices, can take a lot of the mystery out of them, which is why we're hoping the non-trapping public will attend," Lewis said.
The afternoon sessions will focus on topics for more seasoned trappers.
"It'll cover more advanced trapping techniques. It will include lynx trapping methods and we'll have a session on building break-away snares, which help minimize accidental catches, such as moose that may get the head or leg through," Lewis said.
With such a diversity of topics covered, Lewis said he hopes the event will be educational for all that attend, regardless of their intentions.
"We all use these areas and want to avoid problems, so hopefully this will prevent some use-group conflicts before they happen," he said.
For more information on the trapping and snaring clinic, call Fish and Game at 262-9368.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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