Pets, Non-Target Species & Trapping

The question of non-target species, and in particular, domestic pets caught by trappers is of concern to many. We know from information obtained from the Nevada Department of Wildlife that a relatively small number of trappers (perhaps between 10-20% of those in the field any given year) reported catching 195 domestic dogs over an 8-year period with 16 of them found dead in traps. Domestic cats numbered 116 caught with 28 found dead in traps during the same time frame. We believe that many more are caught..probably in rural areas…and that missing pets in winter which are blamed on coyotes may have been victims of fur trappers.   These are not just pets let off leash, trapped dogs include working animals, including birding and cattle herding dogs.

And we’ve not mentioned that other species….from pack rats and rabbits to magpies, an occasional golden eagle or owl, on to mountain lions are impacted by fur trappers. Mountain lions in particular are frequently accidentally caught (It is not legal for fur trappers to trap mountain lions in Nevada.). We know of a few cases where a lion has starved to death, or nearly so, due to trap injuries. We know that many others suffer injuries such as missing claws and toes, foot pad injuries, broken bones, dislocate joints, broken or missing teeth, and probable frost bite injury to the portion of the foot below the capture point of the trap in sub-freezing weather. We will be posting some of this information before long for those interested to review.

“A small number of pets…..”

The term “Non target species” is a euphemism used by trappers and includes your CAT or DOG, as well as working dogs (hunting, herding, etc). How serious is the problem of domestic pets getting trapped and injured?  “A SMALL number of pet dogs are caught in traps set for wild animals every year….” (from the Nevada Trappers Association webpage.)

“Trappers tell me they trap dogs ALL THE TIME but usually claim none are injured.” NV Dept of Wildlife game warden

“Every person I know has either had a dog trapped or knows someone who has.” Reno resident

Trappers are required to submit reports for all of their trapped animals; over a 8-year period, about 30% never filed such reports, 50% filed reports claiming they never caught any non-target species. The remaining 20% (actually probably fewer) produced jaw-dropping numbers of non-target species caught. Nevada Department of Wildlife records suggest that thousands of non-target animals are trapped every decade. While many are rabbits, pack rats, ravens and other animals, domestic pets, both cats and dogs, probably number in the 100’s over a decade. Is that a SMALL number, as the trapper’s association claims? Or do you think that the Commission has a legal and moral responsibility to take action to protect such animals and reduce those numbers.

Do you have personal experience with a pet being trapped?

Many people we know and a few who have posted here have personal experience with pets as well as hunting and ranching dogs being trapped, and either injured or killed. We plan to start a Testimonials section on and we’d love to hear yours. Please either reply to this post or go to our Facebook page and send us a Personal Message with your account.   Let us know if you’d like them posted anonymously. Thank you for your support!