Group strives to send trapping ban to voters

Written by Dylan Darling - WesCom News Service November 12, 2012 02:00 pm

Ballot initiative would ban trapping of animals for their fur or other body parts and outlaw the buying or selling of fur or other parts of trapped animals, as well as make poisoning animals illegal.

A group that aims to ban trapping in Oregon is moving forward with plans for a 2014 ballot initiative.

TrapFree Oregon submitted paperwork detailing the proposed trapping ban with the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month, said Lucinda Baker, executive director for the group. 

“We are ready to go,” she said.

TrapFree Oregon will collect signatures at a series of four open houses over the next five weeks in Bend. The goal is to collect more than 1,800 signatures.

The movement to ban trapping in the state started earlier this year in Bend after a half-dozen dogs were caught in traps during the past winter in Central Oregon. TrapFree Oregon was the title of an Eastern Oregon-based informational website focused on trapping, and the Bend group adopted the name. It now has an office in Tumalo.

Voters in Oregon have twice rejected trapping bans, in 1980 and 2000.

Trappers trap to collect pelts for sale and to keep troublesome animals, from muskrats to coyotes, in check, said Don Nichols, fur sales manager for the Oregon Territorial Council on Furs, Inc. He said opposition to trapping often comes from people who want to save every animal.

“They don’t like to see any individual animal harmed,” he said.

The TrapFree Oregon initiative would ban trapping of animals for their fur or other body parts and outlaw the buying or selling of fur or other parts of trapped animals, as well as make poisoning animals illegal, according to the group’s website. The ban would have exceptions for mice and other small rodent-like animals and larger animals that can’t be controlled by non-lethal means.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission, which oversees the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, adopted rules earlier this year restricting the placement of traps within 50 feet of marked trails and 300 feet from a trailhead or campground.

These restrictions don’t go far enough to protect people and their pets or to stop harm to wildlife, Baker said. So TrapFree Oregon wants a ban on trapping.

Four states around the West have passed trapping bans — Arizona in 1994, Colorado in 1996, California in 1998 and Washington in 2000.

TrapFree Oregon filed paperwork Nov. 2 to put the trapping ban initiative on the 2014 ballot, said Andrea Cantu-Schomus, communications director for the secretary of state.

The state only has initiatives on the ballot in even years and, while the movement started before this year’s vote, the group needed time to organize its effort, Baker said. After the initial round of signature collection, the state will formalize the language of the initiative, and then TrapFree Oregon will start collecting more than 100,000 signatures to secure a place on the ballot.