2015 Dog-Safe Trapping

Dog-safe trapping legislation has been introduced and is making progress in the Minnesota Legislature.

Dogs-on-trailSenate File 1325, authored by Senator Hoffman and its companion, House File 1655, authored by Representative Fischer, require body-gripping traps be set in such a way as to protect dogs from being accidentally caught and killed. MVAP position: support.

Status Update March 2015: The bill is progressing in the Senate; it has passed through the Environment and Judiciary committees and will head to the floor of the Senate for a vote there next. It has not received a hearing in the House.


Body-gripping traps are killing people’s dogs.

They are intended for wildlife, but they may legally be set in places that are frequented by people and their dogs—often leading to tragedy. People are surprised, and their dogs are killed, in ditches along roads, near trailhead parking lots, along trails and in recreational areas, even on neighboring land.

These are not the old-fashioned leghold traps that are familiar to many; they are a new generation of traps that kill quickly, effectively, and arguably more humanely. The problem is that they kill whatever comes sniffing around the bait. Of course, that is sometimes a dog. Even when the dog’s owner is right there, the dog often dies while the owner tries to release the powerful trap.


Given the lethal power of body-gripping traps, many trappers are careful when, where, and how they are used—but that is not a legal requirement. Partly in order to avoid legal regulations, the Minnesota Trappers Association provides training to build a foundation of skills, knowledge of the law, and appropriate conduct for new trappers. Many consider this training to be an alternative to trapping regulations.


Unfortunately, some trappers stand by their “right” to trap in any way that is allowed by law. They continue to set traps in ways and places that are likely to kill dogs, and when they do, they blame the dog owners. In town, they call for strict compliance with leash laws, and in the field, they call for impossibly strict off-leash dog training and control of hunting dogs.

Small-dog-3Solving the problem

Because some trappers continue to set traps in ways and places that are likely to kill dogs, a legal remedy becomes the only option to effectively protect dogs from traps.

Senate File 1325/House File1655 would require body-grip traps to be either fully submerged, placed in 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.

Tom Landwehr, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner, testified on March 9, 2015, in favor of the proposed legislation. “The administration believes it’s important to reduce accidental dog deaths. And we believe this bill will do it”, Landwehr said.

Not a trapping ban

Although this bill does not call for a general ban on trapping, it nevertheless provides protection for people’s pets, which is an improvement on the current situation and a pragmatic step forward. An overwhelming advantage of this bill is that it has a good chance of passing.

For more information:

Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN

Dog-Safe Trapping: Slocum


Collier, Eric. Outdoor Life, September 1957 and October 1957. Revolutionary new trap, parts I and II.

Bertram, Bruce H. U.S. Patent 4,757,639: power snare.

Olson, John F. and Tischaefer, Rick. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Trappers Association. PUB-WM-443 2004. Cable restraints in Wisconsin: a guide to responsible use.

Minnesota State Legislature, 2005-2006 SF 789: Game & Fish bill.

Minnesota Trappers Association Trapping Ethics.

Orrick, Dave. Pioneer Press, 10/20/2012. Will Minnesota’s new trapping rules mean fewer dog deaths?

Orrick, Dave. Pioneer Press, 10/25/2012. Weekend dog death highlights dangers of small traps, too.

Barnes, Deb. The Citizen, 2/16/2012. Stories from signers of the Petition for Safe Public Lands.

Smith, Doug. Star Tribune, 1/14/2013. Number of dogs killed by traps concerns owners.

O’Rourke, Mike. Brainerd Dispatch, 1/17/2013. More protection of dogs from traps is sought.

Lauritsen, John. WCCO TV News, 5/16/2012. Dog Owners Concerned Over Traps Even After Legislation Passes.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook 2012.


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