By MIKE CORN
Trapping on public lands likely will still be allowed, but the state's wildlife agency is hoping new material in a furharvesting class will help prevent a repeat of isolated problems involving traps.
Final action will be taken when the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission votes on furbearer regulations when it meets Aug. 6 in Medicine Lodge.
Discussions in late June, however, didn't include a recommendation outlawing trapping on public lands, said furbearer biologist Matt Peek.
The idea had been proposed and discussed by the commission after a dog was caught and killed in a trap on public land at Kanopolis Reservoir. That incident set off a firestorm of protest, but Peek said it was an isolated incident.
That doesn't mean he's downplaying the incident. In fact, he said, the dog's owner was right to question the circumstances surrounding the incident.
But Peek is hoping that new education classes, soon to be available online, will help prevent similar situations from happening.
"We didn't feel we should make changes to public lands," Peek said of the commission and the wildlife agency itself.
With pelt prices down, Peek said the problem might actually correct itself.
When pelt prices were higher, he said, more people were using public lands to trap animals that are considered valuable in the fur trade. Pelt prices had been climbing between 2000 and last year, the result of higher demand.
"Just having fewer people out could prevent it from happening," he said of incidents involving dogs getting caught in a trap.
It is, he said, a relatively isolated occurrence.
Peek said he's been furbearer biologist since 2001, and he only knows of three instances.
Three years ago, he said, a dog was reportedly killed in a trap at Cheney, but the incident was reported late and few details could be determined. Last year, an incident was reported at Milford.
This year, the Kanopolis incident was reported.
Between 2001 and 2006, Peek said, no similar incidents were reported.
Determining how many people trap on public land is difficult to determine, he said, because trappers are "notoriously leery" of revealing where they are trapping animals.
"They don't want to give up prime locations," he said.
Most trapping, however, is done on private land, where trappers don't have to worry so much about loss of traps or the loss of animals that have been trapped.
But some people do trap on public lands, especially those who live in close proximity to larger tracts of land, such as around reservoirs.
Peek is hoping to get better information on how many people trap on public lands, but that will take time.
In the meantime, KDWP is revising its furbearer harvesting course -- required of trappers -- that will offer information on avoiding placement of a trap where dogs might be.