By ELISE GIORDANO
The seemingly never-ending trapping issue has once again been brought to the table, but this time, a new ordinance was voted in.
With the exception of Assemblyman Tim Cochran and Assemblywoman Angela Grieser, Borough Assembly members on April 16 passed the second reading of the newest trapping ordinance amending what is currently in code.
The ordinance prohibits ground traps within 1/8 mile of any public street, road, right-of-way or trail, and all traps within 50 yards of any public street, road, right-of-way or established trail within the borough, and within 75 feet in rural areas. Trapping is allowed 1/2 mile north of Mile 3 of the Klondike Highway, 1/2 mile north of the Gold Rush Cemetery, beginning at the West Creek Bridge and extending north and west and at the location of the municipal incinerator.
When trapping on private property, “active trapping” signage is required and the landowner must give permission.
Randy Fecteau, Bruce Weber, Cory Thole and John Tronrud, persons designated by Mayor Mark Schaefer, arrived at the said areas, along with two members from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
They modeled the ordinance after others used throughout Alaska.
During the April 16 meeting, Thole spoke in support of the ordinance passing, saying it would be the framework for a proposal to send to ADF&G.
“Without this ordinance, there is no show of support from the community,” Thole said.
In order for Fish and Game to work on a solution for Skagway, a proposal needed to be turned in at the end of April. Without it, Fish and Game wouldn’t be able to review the issue again until January 2018.
“Once the proposal is in and accepted, which it should be, then there is a public comment for anyone in Skagway who wishes to comment on the regulations as proposed,” he said.
Thor Henricksen spoke in opposition to the ordinance, saying by making the trappers put their traps further away, it will cause a worse death for the trapped animal.
“[The leg hold trap] does provide a pretty gruesome trap for an animal that is not found quickly by the trapper. He is going to freeze to death or another animal is going to get him,” Henricksen said. “The further out you put [the traps] the longer you make the animal suffer.”
He said the distance of 50 yards was not a compromise, but a rip-off, and added that the “elitists” will soon want to ban trapping throughout the entire borough.
Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. made an amendment to the ordinance to help it read more clearly, and Assemblyman Dan Henry suggested they remove snow from the language.
The ordinance originally called for tree traps to be five feet above ground or snow, but Henry argued that you wouldn’t be able to stand on the snow to hang the trap.
Cochran said it is “un-Alaskan” to hinder trapping.
“People have been doing it for 118 years. There has never been a public safety issue,” he said.
Grieser agreed, saying two user groups were clashing and calling it a public safety issue.
“We are constricting the group that has the least public safety issue and doing nothing about the group who has one,” she said in regard to dogs off-leash.
Despite Cochran and Grieser’s disapproval, the ordinance passed and will be presented to Fish and Game, at which time, people will be able to send in their comments on the proposal.