Lawmakers introduce legislation to protect dogs from deadly “body grip traps”
In response to a recent rash of accidental dog deaths in Minnesota, Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL- Maplewood) and Rep. John Ward (DFL- Brainerd) announced today that they will introduce legislation next week to restrict the use of “body grip traps” in the state.
Body grip traps are designed to catch animals like raccoons and bobcats, and are legal on almost all public land in the state. The traps are usually baited with meat, and when an animal attempts to reach the bait, the trap springs. The device is designed to kill quickly, breaking the animal’s neck or windpipe.
In recent months, however, body grip traps have been responsible for the deaths of at least six dogs in the state, with many more deaths likely going unreported. “We need to discuss the possible options we have to keep our dogs safe,” said Sen. Wiger. “This legislation will start that conversation here at the Capitol. I am looking forward to working with the DNR, trapper organizations and dog owners to find a solution that benefits all of us.”
The legislation being proposed by Sen. Wiger and Rep. Ward would require body grip traps to be set at least five feet above the ground or completely submerged underwater. The goal is to allow for the traps to continue be used to catch so-called “nuisance” animals, but to protect hunting dogs and pets from accidental capture and death. Twenty-five other states already have similar requirements.
“We are not asking for these traps to be banned totally,” said Rep. Ward. “They do serve an important function for trappers. We are just asking that we make it safer for our dogs and other pets as they and their owners travel much of the same areas where these traps are set. We would not want to have Governor Dayton and his dogs out enjoying a beautiful day in the parks and have the tragedy of one of his pets being caught in one of these traps. This would likely have the same tragic result that many other dog owners have gone through.”