Would you know what to do if your pet was caught in a trap? In Wyoming, trappers can use snares on some public land that could be near trails. In 2014, a Casper family lost three of their family members. Three St. Bernards were caught in traps and were not able to escape.

A group out of Jackson, WY, wants to stop things like this from happening. Wyoming Untrapped will be at the Natrona County Library on September 15th for a Trap Release Workshop.

We had a chance to do a quick Q and A with Kristin Combs of Wyoming Untrapped about keeping your pet safe and the upcoming workshop.


What will someone learn by attending your one of your workshops?

Our presentation will teach people how to release the three most commonly found types of traps; legholds, snares and Conibear traps.  Many people are unaware how stressful and chaotic it can be for their pet to be caught in a trap.  The dog is often in pain and confused and even the most docile of dogs can bite someone who is trying to help release it.  Our workshop will show you how to manipulate the traps and release your pet quickly and efficiently.  Most people have never even seen a trap, let alone know how to release an animal from one.  It's not necessarily intuitive, so it's important to learn what to do ahead of time so that if something happens, your dog can be released as quickly as possible so as to minimize the injury and trauma to both the pet and the person.

Is there anything you can do to avoid traps while enjoying the outdoors with your pet?

The best thing you can do is keep your dog within sight while you are recreating.  Traps can be located anywhere on or near trails as there is no required buffer zone where traps cannot be placed.  If you are unable to locate your dog, they may be caught by a snare or leghold trap.  If caught by a snare, they will be unable to bark and you may not be able to find them.  Traps are often set with bait which will lure the dog to it.

Are trappers responsible if they catch your pet?

Trappers are not responsible for catching your pet in a trap or snare.  There are no requirements for reporting anything that a trapper catches, including pets.  Trappers cannot place a trap or snare within 30 feet of any designated public road and they must have an identification tag located on the trap.  The 30 feet setback does not include trails however and traps can be located directly on a trail.  If you find a trap within 30 feet of a road or without an identification tag, please contact your local game warden or Wyoming Game and Fish Department office immediately.  Many people who have had pets caught by traps have incurred costly vet bills due to injuries sustained by the trap.  Dogs will try to chew at the trap to free their leg and often break off teeth while doing so.  Trappers are not responsible for any of these costs.


If your pet gets caught in a trap, what is the first thing you should do?

Remain calm and try to calm your dog.  The more your dog struggles, the more injuries it will sustain.  Approach the dog with a calming voice and command it to sit if possible.  It is best to place a jacket or shirt over the dogs face in case it tries to bite.  It may be best to put the dog's face in the sleeve.  This will also help calm the dog.  Assess the situation and see where your dog is caught.  Send for help if you think you will not be able to release your dog.  Remain calm and work quickly.


Do you have any tips for pet owners? Things to pack in first aid kit? Tools?

Pet owners should always carry a rope or leash with them as some traps require pulling to open them.  Zip ties can also be a useful tool to help hold the trap open.  Short-nosed cable cutters, such as Felco or similar brand, can cut snares.  If hiking in the winter, carry a small piece of wood to set under the trap to help release it.  If you are hiking and see traps set, leash your dog immediately and report the traps to the local game warden or Wyoming Game and Fish Department office.

Any dog caught by a trap or snare should receive veterinary attention as soon as possible.  An ACE bandage can be helpful to wrap any injuries until you get to a vet.  Unfortunately, predator traps can be set in unlimited numbers year-round on almost all public lands in Wyoming so there are few areas that are trap-free and completely safe for people and their pets to recreate without danger.