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What to report if your dog ends up in a body-grip trap.

posted Oct 31, 2014, 7:50 PM by Doglover System   [ updated Oct 31, 2014, 7:51 PM ]
Letter to the editor of Outdoor News. MN, 10/31/2014.
by John Reynolds, Merrifield, MN.

It's a great day to be in the woods with your dog. As you walk, your mind wanders to the first bird he flushed, and how he proudly carried the bird to you with his tail held high.

You realize you haven't seen him for a while. Where is he? You hit the whistle but hear nothing except the wind in the leaves. You're concerned. You've heard about body-grip traps but never thought it would happen to you. You start frantically searching and stop to whistle, but still nothing. Finally, after the longest five minutes, you find him dead with his throat crushed in a body-grip trap.

Now what? No amount of zip ties will bring him back. And the trap was legally set, according to Minnesota's outdated regulations. It's important to document his death because the minority of trappers who recklessly set body-grip traps--and their supporters in the Legislature and DNR--are claiming we don't know if dogs are being killed despite numerous DNR and newspaper reports.

First, document the scene with pictures. Dog owners have returned to the site with the conservation officer only to find the trap--and even the dog--has been picked up by the trapper, so pictures are important.

Here's what you need to look for and photograph. Was the trap set on a trail or was it in a box or cubby? Did the box have an awning? How deep were the slots in the sides of the box? Was the box tilted up?

Look for the trap tag. It should have the trapper's name or an ID number. Tags are usually wrapped around the trap spring, chain, or cable. Most tags will be darkened or possibly even mud-covered. Record the information on the tag.

Next, report the death to the DNR and fill out the "Dog-trapping Incident" form on the Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN website ( We'll make sure it gets recorded.

Fur prices are down again this year, and that always means fewer trappers and fewer body-grip traps set. Hopefully it will mean fewer dogs killed this fall, but don't mistake that for safe. It only takes one trap to kill your dog.

Dog-trapping incident report form.