By ELISE GIORDANO
After months of frustration and deliberation, the second reading of trapping ordinances 15-06 and 15-05 failed during an assembly meeting on March 5.
The ordinances prohibited trapping within 110 yards of any public road or trail, a compromise that had been reached during a Civic Affairs Committee meeting in January.
But the compromise did not satisfy both parties adequately.
The biggest argument heard was that the borough does not have the right to make laws about trapping, as it is a state-regulated activity.
Assembly members Tim Cochran and Angela Grieser agreed that the issue should be handed over to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“We should repeal the whole thing, get with the state board and get it taken care of,” Cochran said. “We do not have the right to regulate trapping.”
Grieser argued in defense of the trappers, saying that they know what they are doing and how to avoid trapping dogs, which has been a big fear for those against trapping near trails.
“You can see from their history of safety and no dog problems that (the trappers) are doing it correctly, otherwise they would have been catching dogs for the past 100 years,” she said. “It shows that they know what they’re talking about. Fish and Game also know what they’re talking about because it’s their job.”
Jan Wrentmore spoke out about issues with dates surrounding wolf and coyote traps.
Currently, said traps are allowed to be left out until April 30, which Wrentmore noted is two months longer than the rest of the trapping season, which ends on Feb. 15.
“I wish you would fix that. I don’t know if you can. Maybe that does require you to go to Fish and Game,” she said.
Rick Bannerman asked that the municipality find some common ground to make everyone happy.
“I would like to urge that any [changes] that are made, be made looking to protect the pets over the traps, while still making plenty of room for folks that make their livelihood from trapping,” Bannerman said.
Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. suggested the issue be put on a ballot and be left for the community to decide.
While no decisions were made, the ordinances were shot down on second reading and existing code still applies.
Current code, adopted last summer, states that tree traps must be at least five feet above the ground and 50 feet from any public street or established trail.
Leg-hold traps and other ground traps are prohibited within a quarter mile of any public street or established trail, with some exceptions.
Traps are allowed within 150 feet of public streets and trails beginning one-half mile north of Mile 3 on the Klondike Highway, one-half mile north of the Gold Rush Cemetery on the railroad tracks, and beginning at the West Creek Bridge and extending north and west to the Borough boundaries, and at the location of the municipal incinerator.
Leg traps are prohibited on the first mile of the AB Mountain trail and within one-eighth mile of the AB trail, the Lower Lake Loop trail, Mollie Walsh Park, Pullen Creek Park, Yakutania Point, Smuggler’s Cove, Seven Pastures, Dyea Point, and the Dyea Campground and Flats, and community cemeteries.
Mayor Mark Schaefer said he’s not sure what will happen in the future wit the trapping issue.
“I don’t think we can solve the problem,” he said. “People have divided themselves and it’s only getting worse.”
He said current laws aren’t really enforceable, and unless somebody pursues the issue more, it’s likely nothing will happen.
“We get divided on these things, and it’s not healthy for the community,” he said.