Photo by Mary Franzel
Proposed Trapping Buffer in Anchorage Municipality
Anchorage Assembly Member Pete Petersen introduced an ordinance (Ordinance No. AO 2019-50) that would, if enacted, aim at preventing the incidental catch of pets on trails and would clarify trapping regulations for Municipal parks in Girdwood, Bird Creek and elsewhere in the Anchorage Municipality. This ordinance would enact a 50-yard buffer for traps on most trails, and no trapping would be permitted in Anchorage Municipal parks, such as Bird Creek Municipal Park and the Moose Meadows Municipal Park in Girdwood .
While trapping is currently not permitted in the Anchorage Bowl, the Anchorage Municipality is much larger, encompassing all of Chugach State Park as well as land from Portage to the Old Glenn Highway bridge over the Knik River.
We believe that most trail users in Anchorage municipality want to use these trails without worrying that their pets will be caught in traps. A few trails in Chugach State Park already enjoy the protection of a 50 yard buffer, but not many. We also support non-consumptive uses of wildlife where appropriate. Anchorage, Girdwood, Bird Creek, and the rest of the Municipality are areas where wildlife viewing is a high priority for the vast majority of people, and this proposed ordinance, if enacted, will increase wildlife viewing opportunities. Many of us have seen recent videos of a family of lynx on the front lawns of houses on the Anchorage Hillside, and we think preserving this opportunity for thousands of wildlife viewers should take precedence over one or two trappers enjoying the fur of these beautiful animals. We see these beautiful animals in the Anchorage Bowl because trapping isn’t permitted in the Bowl. The ordinance would effectively protect Girdwood and Bird Creek, just as current restrictions protect the Anchorage Bowl.
Every year, pets are caught in traps that are set along public recreational trails in the state, sometimes in Anchorage. Many dogs, especially, are trapped, which would make it possible that children, too, could run off the trail and accidentally be caught in a trap. Alaska Trails, an organization dedicated to enhancing the Alaska public trail experience by supporting sustainable, world-renowned trails, has several stories on their website about pets that were inadvertently caught in traps set along public trails—even one caught in a trap set on someone’s own property. Residents of Anchorage thrive on the trail systems in the area, and their quality of life should not be hindered by worrying about whether their child or pet is in danger of being seriously injured or killed.
This ordinance is not intended to regulate trapping itself; the advice of counsel is the Municipality cannot do so because regulation of the subject is preempted by the state. The ordinance does not abrogate or intrude on the powers of the Board of Game to regulate as iterated in AS 16.05.255. However, the Municipality can regulate use of lands within its boundaries as reasonable and necessary for the public health, safety and welfare, the traditional basis for use of police powers.
- Assembly Member Peterson in the Ordinance
The ordinance enacts a new section to create the “prohibited trapping zones” buffer within 50 yards of developed or public use trails, and ¼ mile of trailheads, campgrounds, and permanent dwellings. The distance and anchors for these buffer zone measurements is duplicated from the identical requirements in ADF&G regulations for trapping in the Chugach State Park, where it is allowed. This ordinance applies the same dimensions for the buffer throughout the rest of the public lands in the Municipality where trapping is allowed. For example, it will apply to the Twentymile River drainage, and the south side of the Knik River drainage that is not within CSP. In addition, the requirement for traps to be marked with an identification number ties in with the identification mark required on traps placed within the CSP, where state law (5 AAC 92.550(3)(C)) requires a person using traps or snares to register with the CSP area office and obtain a trapper identification. Modeling the new Municipal trapping requirements after state regulations applicable to trapping in Chugach State Park should lessen any burdens on trappers and utilize a system familiar to those whom trap in the area.
Raise your voice on this important issue
If you live in the Anchorage municipality, you can email your Anchorage Assembly Member and/or testify at a public hearing on May 7th at 7:00 PM. If you live outside of Anchorage but have an interest in this ordinance, you can also testify and/or email your all of the Assembly Members with one email at email@example.com.
The public hearing will be held at the Assembly Chambers located in the Loussac Library; 3600 Denali Street, Anchorage 99503. If you don’t want to testify yourself, you can still show your support by attending. The Alaska Trappers Association is mobilizing its members to oppose the proposal. Our Advisory Member, Kneeland Taylor, is organizing members interested in testifying and is available for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.