Court puts hold on Colorado trapping

DENVER — New regulations allowing the trapping of pine martens and mink have been put on hold while environmentalists challenge them on grounds that they violate a voter-approved trapping ban.

The decision earlier this month by Denver District Judge Larry Naves reverses the rules at least until their legality is determined in court. A trial is set for Sept. 10.

Wendy Keefover-Ring of Boulder-based Sinapu, a wildlife advocacy group, said environmentalists challenging the regulations believe they violate a 1996 voter-approved ban on leg-hold and body-gripping traps, snares and poisons.

“We think it clearly banned all commercial and recreational trapping,” Keefover-Ring said.

Last summer, the state Wildlife Commission approved the use of box traps to capture pine martens and mink, weasel-like animals valued for their fur.

The commission, which oversees the state Division of Wildlife, rejected a request from the Colorado Trappers Association to use the traps for seven other animals, including swift fox and gray fox.

Spokesman Tyler Baskfield said the Division of Wildlife is doing everything it can to make sure hunters are aware of the court decision and that they shouldn’t be trapping the animals.

Mink and pine martens can be hunted by other means.

Baskfield said the contested regulations were part of the commission’s effort to provide hunters as many opportunities as possible.

But Keefover-Ring said she sees the regulations as a trampling of the rights of voters who approved the trapping ban.

The 1996 ballot measure didn’t explicitly prohibit box traps, which capture animals alive. It allowed non-lethal traps and snares to relocate or treat animals and for scientific research.

The trapping law includes a 30-day exception each year for ranchers on private land.

“The commission said, `Oh, here’s a loophole that’s going to allow box trapping,”‘ Keefover-Ring said.

Members of the Colorado Trappers Association didn’t immediately return messages.

In 1992, Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment outlawing the spring bear hunt to protect cubs that are still with their mothers. Four years later, voters approved expanding trapping restrictions previously adopted by wildlife commissioners.

By JUDITH KOHLER
Associated Press writer

Casper Star Tribune

January 25, 2006

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One response to “Court puts hold on Colorado trapping

  1. Patrick Sheehan

    After reading the quote on the top of the page, I just felt obligated to ask…
    How is trapping illegal in a state like Colorado? Wasn’t this state first explored and settled by hearty souls that trapped beaver in high country ponds?
    I understand that animals in traps feel pain, and could argue all day from the perspective of an “outdoorsman” who is blessed to spend more time in these mountains than your average hiker about the the natural death of an animal in the wilderness and the so called unnatural death brought on by trapping (natural is the real cruel death).
    Is the stand of the voter one from an irrational view based on an idea that the voters do a better job at wildlife management?
    Why do we the taxpayers pay experienced wildlife experts to be a part of the government and vote away our scientific approach?
    This kind of thing is simply the freedom to impose your opinions on people with different beliefs, while completely devaluing facts.
    I realize that this is an emotional subject. This is my formed opinion and do not ask that you agree, but please respect and consider, as I will your opinions before making my annual trip to Wisconsin for the winter trapping season.
    Thanks, Trapper Pat.