It was a scary few moments for Wisconsin man Fred Strand last week when his young dog Hank became caught in a wolf trap. The pair were out walking on a trail near Brule when Hank ran ahead to sniff at something. “He was 20 or 30 feet ahead of me, sniffing the ground,” said Strand, of Iron River. “Immediately after that, he started yelping and barking like he was in great distress. I quickly figured out what the issue was.”
Fortunately for the 1 1/2 year old golden retriever, Strand is a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Brule, and was familiar with this type of trap. It was a leg-hold trap with offset jaws, meaning that there was a gap between the jaws after it was sprung, and Strand was able to work it open enough to release Hank. The distressed dog, ran away joyfully, and unhurt.
This type of trap is meant to confine an animal without hurting it so that when a hunter gets to it, he can decide whether or not to shoot it. “They’re designed to hold the animal, so the trapper can make the final decision whether to take the animal or let it go,” Strand said. While the traps are somewhat of a hazard to dogs, if a person knows how to handle them trouble can be avoided.
Wisconsin has about 650,000 hunters and 18,000 trappers so it is very important to be aware of the hazards if you are heading out with your dog during trapping season, which opened on Saturday in the state. Trappers are required to put their names on the traps and they are often set on well traveled trails as that is where wolves tend to travel. Being aware and using caution at this time of year can help prevent a stressful and unpleasant situation and keep both you and your canine friends safe.