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Family Dog Killed by Wildlife Trap
Owners Sue U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services
Maggie, a seven-year-old Border Collie, fell victim to a trap set for nutria.

My heart breaks for Doug and Denise McCurtain of Gresham, Ore., near Portland. This past August, their beloved seven-year-old Border Collie, Maggie, got caught in a nutria trap and suffered a horrific death. The McCurtains had been warned by their neighborhood association that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services was setting out traps to control a nuisance nutria population. However, they were unaware that a baited Conibear trap would be placed less than 50 feet from their backyard, an area where Maggie and the McCurtains’ children often played.

At issue is whether this particular size trap is appropriate to use on land; the Wildlife Services Portland office suggests it is. Several animal advocacy groups, such as Predator Defense and the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, argue that Conibear traps are too dangerous to use in residential areas. (For an overview of how to release your dog from a trap, visit terrierman.com.)

Earlier this year, the federal agency was blamed for the death of another family dog. J.D. and Angel Walker of Texas lost their Pit Bull, Bella, when she ingested poison from an M-44 sodium cyanide device located near their Texas home. While I understand the need for wildlife management, why is it appropriate for any animal to die a slow, painful death? Surely, there are more humane methods that can be employed at less risk to family pets and children.


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by PBurns | December 7 2011 |

THANKS for the link to the trap release page! This blog is in my Google Reader, so I am already a fan, which is why I am the first to post ;-)

For the record EVERYONE has permission from me to copy the illustrations and text from this page >> http://www.terrierman.com/traprelease.htm as the goal here is to KEEP DOGS AND CATS ALIVE.

Trapping season is full on, or about to start, over much of the U.S.

A small bit of history: Conibear traps were first designed by Frank Conibear in the 1950s in Canada, and were the first substantive improvement in traps since the leghold trap was invented in 1823.

The development of this type of trap was paid for by an animal rights group, and the trap was designed to kill very fast. This sure-kill trap design was subsequently approved by the International Humane Society.

Ironically, because this type of trap kills almost instantly, and is very difficulty to release even if you are standing right there when it fires off, this trap is a very serious threat to cats and dogs which might otherwise be unharmed if entangled in a modern leghold trap or a snare.

In my opinion, a Conibear should only be used in a water set on muskrat (#110 Conibear) or beaver (#330 Conibear) or in a tree set (above ground) for coon.


Submitted by lillipets | December 9 2011 |

A few years ago I was walking my dogs (on leash) in a private campground. I asked permission ahead of time. One of my dogs stepped in a leg hold trap that was set at the base of a tree not 2 feet off the path! Luckily there was no permanent damage but I was horrified!

What if a child had stepped into it! I can just imagine the lawsuit!

These traps should be illegal. I can't imagine a more horrific way to die.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 9 2011 |

After checking out the conibear diagram at terrierman.com, I realized this trap design was way worse than I could ever have imagined. I now understand how McCurtains' Maggie died. I am now printing out the diagram and carrying it along with 2 shoelaces in my outdoor "walkies" pack.

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