Wildlife: Furbearer and Trapping

Wildlife: Furbearer and Trapping

ISSUE

In 2017, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) amended their rules giving them regulatory authority over all trapping activity throughout the State of Utah.  The primary reason for this rule change was to help DWR manage protected wildlife (fox, bobcat, etc.) that may be caught in traps set for non-protected species (coyotes, raccoons).  Utah Farm Bureau opposed this rule change because it would have negative impact on the livestock and property owner’s ability to protect against damage caused by coyotes, raccoons and other predators. 

BACKGROUND

DWR has management authority over species of wildlife deemed as protected by the Utah State Legislature.  No method of trapping is 100% selective in the species of animal that it can capture, and since protected species are regularly captured in traps that are set with the intent to capture non-protected species, the DWR regulates the types of traps, configurations and time intervals that traps must be checked.  During the 2017-2018 hunting season, DWR reports there were 60 violations with 44 illegal kills (33 bobcats, 2 red fox, 9 gray fox). 

The 2017 new rule gives management of coyote and raccoon trapping devices to DWR.  Coyotes and raccoons are considered non-protected species in Utah and under management authority of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF).  Furthermore, the new rule requires the following: a trapper must have possession of a valid license when trapping coyotes and raccoons, specific requirements of trapping devices when trapping coyotes and raccoons, prohibits trapping of coyotes and raccoons within 100 yards of identified rivers and requires traps set for coyotes and raccoons be checked every 48 hours. 

Stakeholders, including Utah Farm Bureau, expressed concern and opposition to this amended rule before the DWR Board ultimately approved the change.  Following DWR’s approval, Utah Farm Bureau and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food immediately worked with DWR to try to find common ground and solutions going forward.  These negotiations led to the DWR Board creating a committee to construct a trapping rule (R657-11) that protects non-target animals and meets the social needs of stakeholders.  The DWR Board adopted this recommendation during their September 2017 board meeting. 

A stakeholder committee has met and unanimously agreed to several changes to the recently adopted new rule.  The following committee recommendations will be presented at the five DWR Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) in July 2018 and to the DWR board in August for final adoption:

  1. Allows for an owner of a trap(s) to designate another person to check and remove wildlife from their trap(s) provided: the trap is appropriately marked with the owner’s trap registration number, the person has required licenses when working with furbearer sets, the person does not have a denied or suspended trap registration license, written authorization of the trap owner and the owner assumes criminal liability and civil responsibility for designated person.  Current rules state if catching protected wildlife in the sets, it must be released immediately.  If it is dead, it needs to be reported.
  2. Clarifies the take of coyotes and raccoons is regulated by the UDAF and the DWR's rule is intended only to regulate trapping devices that could incidentally take protected wildlife.  This should help accomplish three things: minimize the take of non-targeted protected wildlife, help detect illegal trap sets targeting protected wildlife and, protect compliant trappers from criminal liability when accidentally taking non-targeted protected wildlife.
  3. Clarifies that owners of domestic pets caught in a trapping device may only disturb the device to remove their pet. 

 UTAH FARM BUREAU POLICY

Utah Farm Bureau supports implementation of approved and effective predator control measures by authorized agencies, trappers, farmers and ranchers without interference from animal advocacy groups or others. 

For more information, contact Sterling Brown, UFBF Vice President – Public Policy, sterling.brown@fbfs.com.