The Conibear - Tough on Dogs
Trappers have been using conibear traps for years but it seems like lately we’re hearing a lot about hunters who have lost a dog to one of these efficient killers while they were hunting on public land. There has been plenty of discussion on what can be done to keep the hunting dogs safe but rules have yet to be implemented in most regions to restrict the trap’s usage. One recommendation is to get the trap off the ground. In Michigan they have to keep the 220 conibear in dog-proof boxes or four feet off the ground. The thought behind this is that the animals the trapper is targeting can still get to the baited trap even if it’s off the ground and this will keep the dog safe.
I have been fortunate and have never lost a dog to a conibear trap but as much hunting on public land as I do greatly increases my odds that this might happen some day. So how about this for a regulation? During the months of September through December, when most of the bird hunting goes on, trappers must keep their baited conibear traps in dog-proof boxes or at least four feet off the ground on public lands.
What about the hunters on private property? They should check with the landowner to find out if anyone is setting traps on the land. If so, then the hunter must decide whether they want to take their chances and hunt or set up somewhere else. I have a real problem restricting private property and figure if someone is hunting there without permission and their dog gets killed in a conibear then it’s no fault of the landowner.
With so many news stories turning up regarding this situation one can expect the proliferation of articles and videos that provide information on what to do when your dog gets its head in a trap. From all the research I have done there is no shortage of solution oriented material to peruse, but it also seems there is a strong possibility that when the trap springs, the dog is a goner.
That doesn’t mean hunters should be unaware of what to do should the worst-case scenario play out. There are also some articles that showcase the miracles that have happened and the dogs that were saved because a hunter was educated in the proper method for removing the trap.
Fortunately a dog that gets its head stuck in a conibear remains a rare occurrence. Worrying about something like this happening should not keep hunters from taking to the fields. Get a good understanding of what to do should the horrible event take place and don’t let your best friend stray off on its own. Keep one eye peeled for the flushing bird and one eye peeled for the potential disaster. There are many things that can injure or kill a dog on a hunt. It pays to be vigilant.