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Thread: bear traps in the woods?

  1. #1
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    bear traps in the woods?

    Didn't want to highjack adkleaddog's thread, but he/she found a bear trap in the woods. This is something that I often think about while bushwacking. My questions are:

    Has anyone ever found one still set, or heard of anyone getting caught?

    What kind of trouble would a solo bushwacker be in if caught?

    Would my leather LL Bean Cresta boots protect me, or would the teeth go through the leather, or bite me above the boot?

    Could I walk after releasing a trap, or would it do enough bone damage to immobilize?

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    Senior Member Dugan's Avatar
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    I have found leg hold traps while bushwhacking in both MA and VT. I have occasionally stumbled over (and followed for curiosity's sake) trap lines.

    I've often wondered what should be done about them, whether they are legal. Since I don't know, I leave them alone. Luckily, I've never seen one with an animal trapped.

    Even the small ones look to have a nasty PSI when they snap shut.

    Oh - and to answer two of your questions: I have not heard of a human getting caught. I have heard several cases of dogs getting caught in leg hold traps, I do not know whether they were for bears. The outcomes I have heard of in these cases are: death (various causes), mangled limb resulting in amputation, and fine (padded leg hold trap).

    And not to hijack your topic but this is one of the reasons I prefer to keep my dog leashed.

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    Senior Member NewHampshire's Avatar
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    As far as I know those type of traps are illegal in New Hampshire (for any animal let alone bear which can ONLY be taken through the use of archery or firearms.) The reason is that traps are indiscriminate. If the animal is big enough it will get held in the trap. This, of course, means that if you trap an animal that is not in season or is illegal for taking, the leg hold trap can cause permanent injury. With the box type traps, you can capture animals and dispatch them through other means, or free them unharmed.

    The only "specialty" traps Ive ever seen were for beaver on frozen lakes and ponds. The beaver is caught and drowned in the trap. But Im not sure if those are stillused or, if so, if they are really popular at all.

    Brian
    Adopter: Wildcat Ridge Trail from Rt.16 to Wildcat "D". If you have any issues please contact me!

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    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    I really don't want to read this, but you can check NH trapping rules & regs here.
    Last edited by Waumbek; 06-03-2006 at 07:35 AM.

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    Senior Member chipc's Avatar
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    This current thread reminded me of a horrific story about a dog being killed by a trap on eastern LI last December.

    Here's a link to a recent article on the legislation resulting from the incident:
    http://www.longislandpress.com/?cp=1...icle&a_id=8553

    Until I had read about this incident, I hadn't given much thought to traps being on or near trails and thus a danger to human and pet. (I know its naive not to have.)
    Last edited by chipc; 06-03-2006 at 10:57 AM.

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    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    I should have mentioned that I'm concerned with traps from the past, when they were in common use. I often wonder if there are any old traps still sitting there, set and ready, buried under a few inches of leaves. Since I've found many things out there from the same era, I've often thought about traps while bushwacking.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    The thought of one of my two dogs getting caught in a leg hold trap is very disturbing to me. I had never given it any thought, but I have been thinking about it since I first reviewed the thread. I don't see how you could do a scientific study of it, other than to observe. My oldest dog Chips has completed 43 of the NH 48, and Zippy over 20. Add in several dozen, other hikes up hills and waterfalls and to geocaches. They charge around willy nilly for three quarters of the ascent covering 5x more distance than I do, much of it off trail. They are labs so they spend a lot of time in streams and brooks, which are prime hunting ground for trappers. I have seen perhaps several hundred dogs on the trails, very few of them leashed, most charging around in similar fashion. I do not recall anyone relating to me in the past 8 years of hiking, any stories of any dogs getting caught in a trap. Not even the "friend of a friend" type of story. Though I am sure the news report from Long Island must have happened, it is also true that the most disturbing and tragic events tend to be emphasized over their relative risk by today’s media. Perhaps, in NH where all of my hiking has been done, trapping has become so rare along the hiking trails that it really is of no concern. Perhaps it is more of a threat elsewhere. I think I will ask my veterinarian about the relative risk on Monday, but for now, the benefits of hiking with dogs seem to outweigh the risks.
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
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    Senior Member adkleaddog's Avatar
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    The trap we found was sprung, and appeared to be possibly left by someone years ago next to an old tree....it was quite far from "anywhere". It would not be a good thing to get caught up in it, the jaws are over a foot long alone!

    It hangs on our wall in camp, I don't have a photo of it, but I'll take one of it next time we're up to camp.
    "If You Ain't The Lead Dog,
    The Scenery Never Changes!"
    (Age Old Yukon Saying)

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    Senior Member chipc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox
    Though I am sure the news report from Long Island must have happened, it is also true that the most disturbing and tragic events tend to be emphasized over their relative risk by today’s media.
    I spent my first 21 years on LI and my mom and in-laws are still there. This story (true by all accounts) is all the more surprising to me. First of all there is just not that much open land to walk on (let's say compared to up north) and places where you can walk (State or Town parkland or Nature Conservancy) are fairly strictly regulated. I imagine this was an isolated incident of someone placing a trap to remove what they viewed as a nuisance (beaver or something).

    Anyway, since 1990, my dogs along with my wife and I have walked in the Fells, Lincoln Woods, Bedford conservation areas and other MA locations, in addition to trails in the Whites and Acadia and we have never seen a trap. (Yes, broken beer bottles, fishhooks, and old barbed wire but that's for another thread on another day.)

    My apologies for going off on a tangent that Forestnome might not have intended!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    I don't exactly know what Forestnome might have intended for his(her) thread, but I see it as a question of risks versus benefits. Every day I climb into my car and drive to work, inspite of the fact that thousands are killed or maimed on our nations highways. For me the benefits outweigh the risks. On the other hand, I haven't smoked a cigarette in 35 years, yet the risk of being killed or maimed from a single cigarette are probably less than driving a mile in a car. I might be rationalizing the relative safety of allowing my dogs to charge around unfettered in the woods, but what the heck, they're dogs. Its their job.
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
    TW72:60/72, WADK46: 18/46, 52WAV:16/52, Cat35:9/35(39)

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    Senior Member NH_Mtn_Hiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestnome
    Didn't want to highjack adkleaddog's thread, but he/she found a bear trap in the woods. This is something that I often think about while bushwacking. My questions are:

    Has anyone ever found one still set, or heard of anyone getting caught?
    Yes, I've seen a bear leg-hold trap in the woods chained to a tree, set, and baited....It was also well marked and legal.

    Quote Originally Posted by forestnome
    What kind of trouble would a solo bushwacker be in if caught?
    Needless to say...Very Bad Trouble!

    Quote Originally Posted by forestnome
    Would my leather LL Bean Cresta boots protect me, or would the teeth go through the leather, or bite me above the boot?
    A 10"-12" boot might offer you some protection, but a typical hiking boot isn't tall enough to be of any help. (Bear leg-hold traps come in different sizes and jaw types)

    Quote Originally Posted by forestnome
    Could I walk after releasing a trap, or would it do enough bone damage to immobilize?
    With the larger traps, especially the toothed traps, bone damage is quite possible.

    The real problem however isn't whether or not you'd be too injured to walk out...it's whether or not a solo hiker could get out of the trap. A typical bear leg-hold trap has a C-clamp spring on each side. Both springs must be compressed at the same time to open the trap. This is done by standing one foot on each clamp, then opening the jaws by hand. With one leg in the trap it would be impossible for a solo hiker to open the jaws at the same time unless he/she could compress one clamp, secure it with rope, strap, etc then they may be able to stand on the other clamp and open the jaws. Keep in mind the individual would be attempting to do this with one leg, possibly broken, in the trap.....Like I said earlier, a solo hiker who steps in a bear leg-hold trap is in "Very Bad Trouble!"


    On a much lighter note: The larger bear traps can be put to good use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox
    Though I am sure the news report from Long Island must have happened, it is also true that the most disturbing and tragic events tend to be emphasized over their relative risk by today’s media.
    The dog died. Hard to over-emphasize that

    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox
    I see it as a question of risks versus benefits.
    Risk: someone's pet gets maimed or killed in front of their owner.

    Benefit: Ummm. Let me think about this one for a while...

  13. #13
    Senior Member pedxing's Avatar
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    I think there is some benefit to giving a dog some freedom to explore - when appropriate - despite the risks.
    "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride."
    --William James (1842-1910)

  14. #14
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    Dear Frosty,
    We all make choices every minute of every day. There are risks inherent with everyone of those choices. On top of that we all consider the relative morbidity of those choices (ie. skinned knee versus permanent blindness, etc.). I have to think that the probability of my dogs encountering a porcupine or skunk is far greater than a trap, yet none of that (yet). Though the morbidity is greater with a trap than with a skunk/porcupine.

    I drive less than 2 miles to work every work day. In the past three years, three people have been killed along that route. I could be killed, maimed, burned, etc.. And my wife and kids follow me on that route an hour later and could see the accident. I will continue to drive that route because the benefits outway the risks.

    I used to live in a suburb of Buffalo and would run with my older dog on a leash. I had been doing this for many months when she took off at a right angle to my path and pulled me right down on some dirty ice and snow. I had a scratched face, slightly bruised ribs and a very bruised ego. Pretty darned low on the morbidity scale but high enough for me to let her go and just carry the leash.

    Between the two of them, there has been 11 years of hiking and 70 mountains, neither one have had even a cut paw (yet).

    By the way, I hope you brush and floss every day!
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
    TW72:60/72, WADK46: 18/46, 52WAV:16/52, Cat35:9/35(39)

  15. #15
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH_Mtn_Hiker
    Yes, I've seen a bear leg-hold trap in the woods chained to a tree, set, and baited....It was also well marked and legal.
    Thanks for accurate responses. I just read waumbek's link; the biggest species to legally trap is NH is coyote. Did I miss something? Are you sure it was legal? More importantly, was it within the WMNF? Thanks.

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