GREAT FALLS — Hunting season has more people outdoors this time of year on public and private land. If you are out and about, there’s a chance you aren’t the only ones there and there may also be traps hidden to catch coyotes or other animals.
Leo, a 2-year-old blue heeler border collie mix, was walking with his owner Tony Bynum just north of the Missouri River several days ago when he went through something that has people asking questions about what to do with trapping.
Bynum likes to walk his dogs along the north shore of the Missouri River and in Giant Springs State Park, but one recent walk just outside the park has left him concerned.
“My dogs and I occasionally walk over here on the north side of the Giant Springs State Park and we were just up along where the power lines are, and all of a sudden Leo started yelping. So I just ran back over there and I got right next to him and realized his paw was in a coyote trap. My first instinct of course was to get him out, but as I sort of knelt down to open the trap and let his foot out, he bit me on the hand and then on the arm pretty bad, and he was really scared,” - Leo's owner Tony Bynum
Leo is recovered now, but the situation has raised some eyebrows on trapping in the area and what you can and can’t do. The traps were found on private land where the owners do not allow trapping, making it illegal, but if you get permission, you can do it safely.
Dave Hagengruber from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says to always ask private landowners for permission to be on their property. He also says he has not heard of anything like this happening in recent history and added most hunters and trappers are good about following regulations.
“Me personally as a dog owner I keep close tabs on where my dog is and if I know there’s trapping going on I’m extra cautious with that. If it’s on private land, you ask permission from the landowner to gain access. I’ve asked that when I’ve gone out to hunt again, with my own dog, I’ve asked are there any traps out? Is anybody trapping? It’s good to be prepared,” Hagengruber said.
Bynum plans to continue to walk his dogs as usual and wants to give trappers the benefit of the doubt because the traps are made for coyotes and not pets, and he knows that no one wants to hurt someone else’s pet.
“Trappers do this. I mean they’re not trying to hurt people or their pets. I don’t think they’re malicious or anything. I’m not against trapping but I think we’re getting a little close to town and you know, I think it’s time to revisit some of this trapping activity that’s so close to town,” Bynum said.
FWP says trapping is not allowed in Giant Springs to ensure visitor and pet safety and that it is important to stay up to date on regulations on what you can and can’t do. They also require you to keep your pets leashed while within park boundaries. If you have questions about trapping or hunting regulations, you can contact an FWP regional office, or click here to visit the FWP website.