Trap release

Dave Pauli demonstrates how a common snare trap works during a 2016 workshop. A virtual workshop is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Dave Pauli’s guidance starts with staying alert in order to safely get out with your dog in places also used for furbearer trapping.

Pay attention to surroundings, he advises, especially in areas clearly used by wildlife — game trails can be a sign. Stay attuned to your pet’s behavior, and be on the lookout for shiny, intriguing items used by trappers to lure in their quarry, like DVDs and feathers. Adopt those practices year-round, he said.

“People think traps are only there during furbearing season, during the five months of winter when furbearers are trapped,” he said. “But in reality, they could be there 12 months of the year for predator control. It’s not just a fall and winter thing, it could be any time.”

Those recommendations are intended to keep pets from getting caught in a trap in the first place.

But what happens when your dog is lured in and ends up in a leghold, snare or body-gripping trap?

Wyoming Untrapped has organized a workshop where Pauli will teach what to do. The free trap-release workshop is happening virtually from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today. Register online at

According to Wyoming Untrapped, more than 80 dogs have been reported trapped and 10 have been reported killed in Wyoming since 2000. But the true numbers could be much higher because trappers are not responsible for reporting trapped pets, and pet owners might choose not to report as well.

Pauli, who is from Billings, Montana, is a program manager for the Humane Society of the United States.

“If you can’t attend the workshop, go online and look at the different tapes that are out there about how to extract your pets from a trap,” Pauli said. “If you don’t prepare, you’re going to be surprised when it happens, because you won’t be able to figure these devices out.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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