Legislators have taken a first step on Monday to approve the rule changes requested by the Idaho Game and Wildlife Department, which require wolf and other trappers to move traps farther to avoid dogs walking with their owners ,
The House Resources and Conservation Committee approved the rules after Fish and Game officials told lawmakers that trappers had worked with the agency on the new rules.
Trappers "acknowledge that things are changing in Idaho, and there are more people recovering, and they just want to be good citizens and good members of their community," Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said after the committee meeting.
The changes came after several dogs had been trapped while walking in recent years. Legislators still need to take some steps before the new rules come into force.
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According to the rules, the traps do not have to be more than 3 meters from the edge of a well-maintained, unpaved public path. The current rule is 1.5m from the centerline. The new rules will also add paved paths 100 feet (100 meters) to trappers, including areas such as public campgrounds and trailheads.
Idaho Conservation League Jonathan Oppenheimer, a group of environmental observers, spoke out in favor of the new rules at the meeting.
"Things are not going as well as we would like, but we see it as progress in the right direction," he told the legislature.
The Idaho Trappers Association participated in the rulemaking process. No one was said at the committee meeting. Justin Webb, who lives on the board of the association and lives in Sandpoint, said in a telephone interview that the new rules could avoid future conflicts.
"It's kind of a trapper to show the public that we do not want to have problems, we do not want to have a conflict, we do not want to have a negative image of traps as a wildlife management tool." he said.
He also said that the association regularly demonstrates how dogs can be uninjured from the leg traps. He noted that these are the same types of traps that biologists use to catch wolves to put on collars.
"I put my hand in these traps so people understand that they are not meant to hurt anything, but that they should hold," he said.