A wildlife protection group based in Stowe has petitioned the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board to change trapping regulations in an effort to protect pets, people and raptors from being caught in traps set for wildlife, such as bobcats and coyotes.

Now, according to Protect Our Wildlife, baited traps — including leghold and body-crushing “kill” traps — are allowed on public lands, including state forests, parks, wildlife refuges and wildlife management areas where both Vermonters and tourists recreate.

Protect Our Wildlife, in filing the petition Dec. 6, said no public notification is required that traps may be present, nor is there a requirement that trappers set traps away from areas frequented by the public.

“This is an example of when the Fish and Wildlife Board needs to step forward and do what’s right by the general public, not just the trappers,” said Jeff Beaupre, a member of the group and a wildlife photographer. “While trappers only represent 0.15% of Vermonters, their traps present a danger to all Vermonters, their pets, and also to non-target species.”

In the petition, Protect Our Wildlife is requesting three new rules:

1. Prohibit trapping within a certain distance of public trails, trailheads, designated wildlife crossings, and public campgrounds and picnic areas.

2. Require signs at all trailheads on public land, warning that trapping is allowed on the land.

3. Prohibit baiting a trap with meat or other animal-derived products if the bait is visible from the air, in an effort to reduce the incidental injury and death of bald eagles, other raptors and ravens.

“Other states with long trapping histories, such as Montana and Oregon, require trappers to set traps a minimum number of feet away from public trails. They acknowledge the dangers these traps present to animals and people. It’s time we provide this minimal amount of awareness and protection to Vermont residents,” said Lisa Jablow, a Protect Our Wildlife board member.

To learn more about trapping in Vermont, visit protectourwildlifevt.org.

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