Thursday, January 6, 2011

Collecting snow, a Cuddlebug photo, and paws caught in traps

This morning, I slept in until daylight and then headed to the old 'hood to the beaver pond to collect snow samples. Because the beaver pond has liquid water (at 0 degrees C) beneath several feet of ice (which is a better thermal conductor than snow) beneath several feet of snow (which insulates against ambient air temperatures), I know that the snow against the ice will have grown into large, interesting crystals for me to study.

The girls ran out to the pond to play...

... then promptly each walked into a snap trap. As soon as I heard them yelp, I knew what it was, and ran over and freed them. The dogs are fine--the traps were small and had no teeth, obviously intended for the pond's natural residents, the beavers--but I was pissed.

What kind of jackass:

(1) Puts traps on multi-use trails that have skiers, recreational snow machiners, dog walkers, and dog teams?

(2) Doesn't tag his traps with his license and registration number?

(3) Doesn't put warning signs on the trail ahead of his trap line?

My friend Bobbo says, "Never assume malice when stupidity will explain a person equally well." So I will try not to be too angry without knowing the details.

In the past, I have had excellent experiences with the Alaska Trappers Association policing their own. They know that trapping is losing support in modern society, and that in order to keep trapping legal, they must work with others to minimize hurting pets and people. Their rules and guidelines cover the three things I mentioned above, and myriad other details.

Last winter, I found a few traps just past my property line, on a very busy ski trail in my neighborhood. I called my neighbor, who is a long-term trapper, upstanding member of the ATA, and dog lover who also has a great deal of common sense and integrity, and asked him what to do. I know that trapping is legal, and that my aforementioned 3 courtesy rules are just that--courtesy rules--and are not required by law. My neighbor went out to investigate the traps, and left a note for the "trapper" (his quotes; he doesn't believe rogue trappers deserve the title). The "trapper" cheerfully contacted him, gave his full name and address, apologized for the trouble, and removed all of his traps from the neighborhood.

All of us dog-walking neighbors were astonished at how lightly the whole situation ended. We had expected to learn that he was some maniac who enjoyed catching pet dogs, so grotesque was his placement of the traps right behind our homes. But nope; he was a decent enough fellow who just happened to be monumentally stupid and thoughtless.

So I will withhold judgment on whomever put the traps on the pond, avoid the pond and that area, and call my friend again to see if he finds this situation worth interfering with. FYI to my non-Alaskan readers: it's a common methodology for a trapper to write his name and phone number with a warning--"Traps XX yards ahead"--on a paper plate and staple it to a tree at each trail entrance where unwary dog walkers might approach. This is common courtesy, and all I ask for.

Aaaaanyway, being the cruel dog parent that I am, I still made the girls haul me back with my snow samples. Well, what else was I gonna do? Let them run loose when there are traps in the vicinity?

Here is a vid I took for y'all, my six faithful readers.

Great dogs, aren't they? I wubs them!

Oh, here is a photo that Rufous' papa sent me from the night of the eclipse:

Adorable, what?

Here is a map for TwoYaks:


TwoYaks said...

What's the lat-long on the beaver pond? This the one up Salchaket Slough?

Arvay said...

No... I posted a screen shot in the main post for you now. I trust you'll know where it is from my incredible detail. :)

TwoYaks said...

Got it. I'll see what I see.

DJC said...

Really sorry to hear about the dogs getting their paws stuck in the traps. I know you mentioned that they were running fine afterward, but will you have to take them into the vet to get their paws looked it?

It does seem incredibly irresponsible to set traps and not put any warning signs up about them. What did you do with them after you disarmed them? Did you leave a note?

DJC said...

Oh and I forgot to mention, this one of six readers appreciates the video you took!

Anonymous said...

Poor girlies.

Arvay said...

DJC: You're more than welcome. And the paws are fine. I looked them over and prodded them very carefully, and didn't even detect bruises. I did leave a note in one of the traps, that said, "Please put a sign to warn folks where you are putting traps. The Alaska Trappers Association recommends it."

People like that probably don't care about hurting dogs or even people, but one thing that might move them is that after a dog or human snaps their traps, its no longer available to use to catch their actual target. So that ought to motivate them to stay in less populated areas and put up signs warning folks to stay away.

Anon: Yeah. I wish I could find that ass, put a gun to his head, and tell him, "Stick your hand in your own trap and see if you like it, buddy. And my dogs will watch!"

Debs said...

Glad to hear that the dogs are OK.