It’s trapping season – beware

From Mary Katherine Ray, our Wildlife Chair:

I was walking in the Cibola National Forest in Socorro county when my dog got trapped. We were on a game trail that meanders up the bottom of a wide canyon. My dog was on a leash walking just a little ahead of me when she jumped and started screaming and biting at her foot. I couldn’t even see the trap she was biting so frantically and yelping in pain at the same time. Ear piercing cries!

I knew it was a trap and immediately took off my jacket to try to cover her head, which is not as easy as it sounds because she was biting at the trap where my hands needed to be to release the levers. Finally, I just had to feel for the levers and luckily I was strong enough to make them go down so my dog could slip out. She was trapped for less than a minute.

At first, she wouldn’t put weight on that foot, and then she limped for a little while. She was OK the next day except for some swelling and a small cut on the back of her foot. I attribute her not being more severely injured to such a short time in the trap. As a wildlife advocate, I’m so glad I knew how to release her. But I was not prepared for what a horrible experience it still was. My heart breaks to think of wildlife caught and struggling in a trap’s grip for hours on end with no rescue only to be shot, strangled or bludgeoned to death when the trapper comes.

The trap, it turns out, was legally set in every respect. It was set right in the path, but the path was not an official marked trail so it doesn’t count. The law protects trappers completely and puts hikers like me at risk from injury and trauma. I don’t feel like I can go back into the forest until trapping season ends.

Listen to the audio of the dogs’s gut-wrenching cries.

More information

Please listen to this radio report on protecting your dog and yourself from traps on public lands where you may be hiking or walking. Our Wildlife chair, Mary Katherine Ray, whose own dog just got caught in a trap, is quoted. Please take the time to follow the link in the article and learn how to free your pet from a trap. Mary Katherine did it in about 30 seconds because she knows how.

TrapFree New Mexico – How to release your dog from a leg-hold trap.


ABQ Journal reader response to leg hold traps.


It’s trapping season – beware