Wyoming Untrapped is advocating for particular changes on the trails, starting with the Jackson Hole region. Katy Canetta, the program director for WU, says the organization hopes for new regulations that will require traps to be set back at least 500 feet from trails in Teton County and close 175 miles of trails to trapping. She added that the request would shut down less than 2 percent of the total county to trapping.
Canetta also says WU is engaging in public education efforts, such as hosting trap release workshops where dog owners can learn how to release their dogs from traps.
And while the safety of pets is of considerable concern for WU, Robertson says all wildlife suffers far too frequently in the painful traps set across the state.
There are two groups of animals generally targeted by trappers. One is fur-bearing animals, like minx, badgers, beavers and bobcats. There are limits on seasons, location and population on furbearing animals who can be trapped.
The other group of trapped animals is "predators," says Canetta, who are not designated fur-bearing animals. Predators include certain fox species, coyotes, jackrabbits, porcupines, raccoons and stray cats. The distinction is a regulatory one and allows people to trap these animals as often as they like, without a license. Robertson adds, "There's no official data on how many [predator] animals are trapped annually. If you trap a coyote or a fox, for example, you don't have to report it. It's totally indiscriminate: Bears have been trapped. Moose have been trapped. Bald eagles have been trapped. Mountain lions can be trapped."
The most recent data from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department show that 2,560 licenses were sold in the 2013-2014 season.
WARNING: Graphic and disturbing images below
Different traps are used for different reasons.
Leg-hold traps slam shut around the animal's leg to keep her restrained. In theory, if a non-targeted animal is trapped this way, a hunter will be able to release him, although leg hold traps "can cause severe swelling, lacerations, joint dislocations, fractures, damage to teeth and gums, self-mutilation, limb amputation and even death," according to Born Free. Canetta says that when trappers return to the leg-hold trap and kill the animal, "they usually do not use guns, as that would damage the fur. Instead, they often hold a knee to the throat or chest to crush and suffocate the animal."