Making Trapping Regulations More Dog-Friendly – How can you help?



*Candace Cameron sent this in to us recently to highlight possible legislation regarding trapping changes.  Since the trapping regulations were modified in 2012, 17 dogs have been caught and killed in traps (that have been reported), more modifications are requested to offer more safety in the field for dogs and peace of mind for their owners.  Below is her full article, originally appearing for MNNAVHDA. With updates coming after the article. As you will see, the author (and MNSJ) is not anti-trapping, just pushing for changes in the way traps are set, to make it safer for dogs. 

Here is her original article regarding body trap legislation, reposted with permission.

Recent History of the Body Grip Trap Regulations on MN lands.

2010- The 220 size (7”x7”) body grip trap had new regulations specifically addressing “ditch sets” and proximity to occupied buildings.


Placement of body-gripping traps. A person may not set, place, or operate any body-gripping or “conibear” type trap that has a maximum jaw opening, when set, of greater than 6-1/2 inches measured from the inside edges of the body-gripping portions of the jaws:

  1. in a road right-of-way within 500 feet of a building occupied by a human or livestock without written permission of the landowner, except as a completely submerged waterset; or
  2. in or within three feet of the opening of a six-foot-wide or smaller culvert, except as a completely submerged waterset.

I’m unable to find any public records of why the 2010 regulations were placed on the 220. However, they were mentioned in the 2009 April-May MTA Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the MTA President’s Report

“We all knew that there would be changes coming regarding the #220 bodygripper. The MTA did not request this law change but we lobbied long and hard with the DNR to keep the #220 on dry land legal. Several years ago when there was a public outcry to ban the dry land #220 we (the MTA) met with the DNR to make our pleas to keep the dry land #220. During this meeting this strategy was discussed. We all agreed to leave things well enough alone until or unless more negative #220 issues came about. Your MTA made massive pleas for trappers to please watch where you set these traps. I’m not going to get into graphics in this magazine as it is monitored by those who oppose our sport, but trust me, the unthinkable happened.”

2012- A new bill was introduced, that would have required 5′ elevation, complete submersion, or a DNR approved dog proof box. The bills were never heard by Senate and House Subcommittees.  The Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA) rejected the bill and wrote the 7″ overhang and 3′ elevation bill that exempted 220’s from regulation on private land.

Present- SF 1325/HF 1655 were introduced this year as a direct result of the “re-evaluation” of the 2012 MTA regulations and required changes that Rep. McNamara anticipated in his committee. “We’ve got to be honest: We don’t know how it’s going to work,” said state Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who chaired the House committee that held hearings on the issue and who supported the restrictions proposed by the trappers. “We’re going have to see if they provide adequate protection. I don’t know how we define that, but we’re going to have to figure it out. We’ll re-evaluate if need be.”

SF 1325 has passed through three Senate subcommittees with unanimous votes and will be voted on shortly. SF 1325 and HF 1655 require that body-grip traps to be either fully submerged, placed in dog-safe boxes, or mounted 5′ above ground. If these changes are written into law they would greatly reduce the number of dogs that are killed and maimed by body-grip traps each year. The MTA has opposed every part of this bill but has not offered any other solutions.

Body grip traps continue to weigh heavily not only on the minds of bird hunters, but all outdoor enthusiasts that venture into the the fields and woods during trapping season. I’ve spoken to many upland bird hunters who will not hunt after the trapping season starts. Our household is certainly among those who refuse to place our beloved dogs in harms way. The time we have to savor our glorious fall days is far too short to begin with.

I’m sure many recall hearing the story of “Bronco”…

Late October, the weather is cool and the leaves are finally down. A great time to be in woods! Perfect conditions for a grouse hunt with your best friend/hunting buddy of many years.  Walking down a Designated Hunter Walking Trail, your dog is working the scents; he disappears from view for seconds– as all pointing dogs do– you hear the yelp for help. The hair on your neck becomes erect. It’s a sound no dog lover EVER wants to hear. You race to find your pup caught in half submerged 330 body grip trap. Zip ties won’t work, as you frantically try to free him. The majority of trappers have to use special setting tool for that size trap. Bronco dies a horrific death before your eyes. You kneel down, nearly in shock as you look helplessly at the lifeless form of your best friend that only moments before was gleefully running through the woods. A Conservation Officer is called out to help remove the trap from him. Written in the Conservation Officer’s report is LEGAL set, 3 other half submerged 330’s set close by as well and a LEGAL Baited 220 size box set is also set 10′ away. 50′ off of a walking trail. Who is at “fault” in that death? The grouse Hunter who chose to hunt during trapping season or the trapper who placed a legal set?

The regulations we have right now that allow the hazardous sets are the cause of the problem. They MUST be changed as any reasonable human being can easily see.

Since 2012, when the “overhang” was required to protect the dogs, more than 20 dogs have been killed in body-grip traps. Currently, it is not mandatory for dog caught in traps to be reported to the MN DNR. The reporting of dog deaths by the DNR started in 2012. The reporting was not very good initially, but has improved over time.  SF 1325 would require public annual reporting by the DNR and and mandatory reporting of domestic animals. This is a news article from March 2013 that has Jason Abrahams speaking of the 2012-13 trapping season (first season of the “overhang” regulation) and dogs caught in traps.

Since the trapping season began in October, the DNR has received 20 reports of dogs being caught in traps, 15 of them in body-gripping traps, 3 in foothold and 2 in snares. Nine of those dogs died, all in body grip traps. Not one citation was issued for illegal set. 

In the current trapping season, the DNR has reported the deaths of seven dogs in 90 days. Four of the seven dogs that were killed this trapping season, were in legally set traps. This does not include Daisy and Bracken, who were near death in traps, but revived by their owners using CPR.  Another dog named Kobe was so seriously maimed by a body-grip trap that he lost both eyes and the hearing in one ear. Unfortunately, there is not a website or legible spreadsheet available with this information. You can contact and ask for the individual reports.

Minnesota  trapping laws currently allow for the placement of body-grip traps on the ground, where dogs can access them. They also allow baited traps in enclosures that do not keep dogs out. Other states have successfully managed trapping and dog owners. Many states restrict the use of body-grip traps more aggressively than Minnesota without having a negative affect on fur harvest. WITHOUT HAVING A NEGATIVE AFFECT ON FUR HARVEST. Minnesota is not a leader in dog safe trapping.  We need to get up to speed on this vital issue before ONE more dog dies a heartbreaking, dreadful death like Bronco did. Thirteen states and a few Canadian provinces have proven dog safe regulations on body grip traps being set on the ground. Eight states say traps must be elevated. In the states where body-grip traps have been restricted, trappers continue to trap and the number of predators is still controlled.

I’ve stated many times that the proposed regulations, similar to other states, have NOT had a negative impact on fur harvest. As an outdoor loving, serious upland hunter, I completely understand how important trapping is to those who pursue it. I’m certain some trappers will view this as an overzealous attempt to infringe on their sport. That in itself is not only sad, but is simply wrong. There are many responsible trappers out there who would never set a trap that would endanger a dog. For trappers that insist on taking a stick your head in the sand approach to this, they are taking themselves down a one-way path to oblivion. The times – they are a changing. As the word gets out and the public becomes more and more aware of these senseless, deplorable deaths, their sport will inevitably come under increasing fire. They would do well to take a proactive approach to addressing this issue. Trappers in other states have adapted. MN trappers need to do the same.

Trapping is a source of income as well as an outdoor pursuit. Trapping license sales increase and decrease with the price of fur. This has a direct effect on the fur harvest from year to year, not the trapping regulations. For your reference, here are some states with similar body grip regulations and the dates they were enacted. Using the link below, it is possible to research fur take before and after the regulations were enacted and find that the dog safe regulations did not have a negative impact fur harvest.

Wisconsin regulations were changed in 1998.

In September 2007, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued emergency regulations to help reduce or eliminate the capture or killing of pets in body-gripping traps. New York’s 2007-08 trapping season opened on Oct. 25 in most areas of the state and the restrictions applied to the setting and use of body-gripping traps.

Michigan adopted tighter regulations on body grip traps in 2009.

Missouri has had dog safe body grip regulations in effect since 1981. The Missouri DNR has never had a report of a dog death in a body grip trap.

New Hampshire in 2002.


Update from Candace May 6th:

The house bill has is not being heard- HF 1655. The senate bill SF 1325 passed through all three committees unanimously a month ago.

Wisconsin has 3000 more trappers, 25,000 less square miles of LAND and only report 0-2 dog deaths a yr..

Here in Minnesota we are having a conflict with body grip traps and dogs. Many other states haven proven with safer regulations on restricitive openings, elevation and trap recess distances that the body grip traps and dogs can coexist. We currently have bills that call for safer placement regs and they need to hear support. The AKC supports these bills as well as the Ruffed Grouse Society.

There’s been several high profile deaths of dogs. Hunting dogs, lost dogs, ppl walking in the woods with their dogs unleashed in the body grip traps this yearr, as well as Kobe who was blinded after surviving 2-3 days in one. The only thing that saved his life was the trapper who reported it and the fact that he started wagging his tail when the CO approached him while he was in the trap. He was lucky! The traps are designed to kill quickly and those who were able to release their dogs in a few minutes, still ended up administering CPR.

If these bills fail in this legislative session, we will NEED to have more high profile dog deaths the next hunting/trapping season to gain momentum again on another bill.
SF 1325 and it’s Companion Bill HF 1655 are stalled. The legislative session ends May 18th.
Nothing is going to happen unless Pheasants Forever comes out in support like RGS did and people contact their district’s reps. You can keep it simple and short. And also contact the people listed below.

Non-Residents and residents should send letters to the following people. I’ve had many of my out-of-state friends write them and tell them that they will choose to hunt WI and MI over MN because they have safer regs to minimize the risk to bird dogs.

HF 1655
House Rep Tom Hackbarth. Chairman of the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy committee, has refused to hear HF 1655

House Representative Dave Dill

House Rep Denny McNamara. He took part in the “awning” regulation. A reg that no other state tried—-South Dakota Regs on Body Grips specifically state trap recess distance CANNOT be measured from the awning, ours are.

Here’s McNamara’s quote in 2012 on the ineffective “awning” reg that he played a huge part in putting in place
“We’ve got to be honest: We don’t know how it’s going to work,” said state Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who chaired the House committee that held hearings on the issue and who supported the restrictions proposed by the trappers. “We’re going have to see if they provide adequate protection. I don’t know how we define that, but we’re going to have to figure it out. We’ll re-evaluate if need be.”

SF 1325
Senate Majority Leader Senator Tom Bakk. Longtime MN Trappers Association member, has stalled the bill in the Senate.

Dennis Anderson wrote an update today in the Star Tribune.  Read it here. 

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