Council addresses animal trapping on city property following reports of cats, children getting hurt

A stray cat named "Lucky" is found caught in a raccoon trap in St. George, Utah, November 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kris Neal, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A cat lost its paw after getting caught in a raccoon trap in St. George in November, and three teens trying to help the stray were bit in the process.

Following this and other reports of animals being caught in illegally set traps, the St. George City Council voted Thursday to outlaw trapping on city property, with some exceptions.

A stray cat named “Lucky” recovers from a paw amputation after she was found caught in trap in St. George, Utah, November 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kris Neal, St. George News

While setting body-gripping traps on public property without license is already illegal under state law, the council updated the city’s ordinance to expressly prohibit the practice within St. George.

Before they were expressly prohibited, traps designed to clamp animal appendages had been found in areas throughout the city.

“We have had quite a few cats and dogs trapped in these in the past,” Kris Neal said of the issue in a previous City Council meeting. “They only have to be checked every 48 hours, so an animal can sit there and suffer for that long.”

Neal runs an animal rescue called One More Chance C.A.T.S., which works to reduce feral cat populations by conducting a trap, neuter and release program on feral colonies using live box traps with food that are checked frequently.

Neal brought the issue to the city after a feral cat was found clamped to an illegal trap near a parking lot.

The cat was freed from the trap by St. George Animal Control, but it escaped before it could be provided with medical attention and was spotted limping on its injured leg days later.

“There really isn’t a place for these kinds of traps in our city limits anymore.” Neal said “It’s really only a matter of time before a human does step into one.”

Feral cat “Baxter” is found trapped near a parking lot in St. George, Utah, October 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kris Neal, St. George News

Besides the possibility of a person becoming ensnared, Neal said people who come across trapped animals face a real possibility of getting hurt if they attempt to free them.

The three young teens who found a stray cat caught in a raccoon trap underneath the bridge on River Road near Horseman Park Drive all suffered bite wounds as they attempted to free the frightened, injured animal. The teens managed to get the cat to a veterinarian where it had to have its paw amputated.

“Even though this wasn’t a trap that would have caught a human,” Neal said, “it was a trap that kids got hurt trying to help the animal.”

The ordinance was also drafted in part to protect people and animals near trails and waterways on or adjacent to city property.

The ordinance prohibits any trapping within the city unless deemed necessary by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources or police. Humane live box or cage traps like the ones used by One More Chance C.A.T.S. are still permitted by the ordinance.

A St. George Animal Control Officer removes an illegal trap after a feral cat became clamped in it near a parking lot in St. George, Utah, October 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kris Neal, St. George News

Any legally sanctioned trapping may not use conibear-type traps, which are designed to fatally injure animals when triggered.

Trapping is still permitted on private property.

“Utah law does allow for you to trap on your private property but you have to follow certain requirements in Utah law for permits or placing those traps,” St. George City Attorney Shawn Guzman said.

Depending on the type of trap and animal, state law allows some trapping without permit on private property, according to the DWR.

“I have to really hand it to the City Council for addressing this,” Neal told St. George News Friday. “I got 90 percent of what I felt needed to be done, and that is a law on the books that is at least a deterrent.”

Violating the ordinance is a class B misdemeanor.

A previous draft of the ordinance would have banned trapping on private property within 50 feet of public roads and trails, but the council removed that requirement before approving the ordinance.

“We all realize we need to trap animals,” Guzman said. “We get calls to animal services all the time about some wild animals that get into people’s yards and into their homes – into their attics, et cetera. We have to call the Department of Natural Resources or hire one of these trappers to come in.

“It’s something that needs to be done. We cannot have a blanket ‘no trapping.’”

Neal said anyone who comes across an animal trapped illegally should call local animal control or police dispatch for assistance.

“Those guys are trained to know what to do,” Neal said of the animal control officers. “People shouldn’t try to help those animals on their own.”

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • Real Life December 9, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Man there are some dumb hillbillies around here. If there is such a thing as karma, the idiot setting these traps will hopefully lose a hand while trying to set one.

    • .... December 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      must be related to you

  • hiker75 December 9, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    And it’s is legal to set traps for coyotes in Ivins. Yes, that was approved by City Council!

  • desertgirl December 9, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Traps should be illegal……period. Only a sociopath has no problems with creating suffering in other living creatures.

  • PlanetU December 9, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Maybe the dude will not only lose his hand but something else….red necks. BLESS Kris Neal, she does SO MUCH for the cat population. The city of St. George should be giving her an award for all the precious time she puts in and Jim Neal too.

  • Sean December 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    First off it is illegal for any person other than the person who set the trap to remove any animal from a trap that isn’t theirs. 2nd if I caught ya messing with my traps or stealing from it there will be hell to pay. What you all also don’t realize is that feral cats destroy populations of wildlife such as quail, pheasants, rabbits, etc. Just because some person spays or neuters a feral cat and releases it doesn’t stop it from killing. I’m sure it looked good on paper but the idea just sucks. For those of ya that truly don’t know the first thing about trapping I would attend a trappers education course and find out first hand just how useful of a tool trapping is not only conservation wise but disease wise as well.

    • Real Life December 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Internet tough guy, or dumb hillbilly. You be the judge.

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