NRC adjusts furbearer trapping, hunting regs

By Bill
Parker
Editor

Lansing — Several changes have been made to furbearer
regulations that will affect trapping and hunting this fall. The
changes were approved by the state Natural Resources Commission at
its July meeting in Lansing and take effect immediately.

The biggest changes are in non-lethal snaring regulations.

Snares are intended to be used as non-lethal restraining
devices. The DNR approved snaring of fox and coyotes four years
ago. Since then, there has been some concern, particularly from
hunting dog owners, about non-target animals getting caught in the
snares. The changes, according to DNR furbearer specialist Dave
Bostick, address those concerns.

Changes to the snaring regulations are:

  • requiring two swivels, one at the anchor point and one
    approximately halfway between the anchor point and the relaxing
    lock when the snare loop is at its maximum diameter;
  • requiring a maximum cable length of 60 inches, with up to a
    36-inch anchor cable extension;
  • reducing the breakaway maximum strength from 350 to 285
    pounds;
  • requiring the minimum size of snare stops be increased to 41/4
    inches to decrease the potential lethality of snares;
  • requiring all snares have a tag attached, which bears the user
    or owner’s name and address or his Michigan driver’s license
    number;
  • allowing snares to be anchored to woody vegetation provided the
    stem is clear of branches and stubs up to 5 feet above the ground
    or snow;
  • requiring that snares have a relaxing lock that allows the
    snare loop to loosen slightly to reduce the possibility of
    strangulation.

Those changes were not easily decided.

“There was a special meeting called to discuss the issue between
all the user groups,” Bostick said. “Some things were agreed on and
some things they agreed to disagree on.”

In the end the regulations reflect the DNR’s goal to “reduce the
lethality of non-target animals, particularly dogs,” Bostick
said.

Another change to furbearer regulations is to allow trappers to
use a .22 caliber or smaller firearm to kill furbearers including
coyotes, fox, raccoons, bobcats, or badgers that are caught in
traps. This rule does not apply to junior fur harvester trap-only
licenses.

“The .22 issue wasn’t addressed real well in our regs,” Bostick
said. “Fox, raccoons, and coyotes can be trapped and hunted so
dispatching of one with a .22 probably wasn’t a violation. But
there are other species on the list that we don’t have a hunting
season for so it would have been illegal to shoot them. This is a
safe, effective, humane way to dispatch a furbearer caught in a
trap.”

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