Afton City Council was trapped in a heated discussion during its Aug. 20 meeting over whether or not to approve a new ordinance.
Ultimately, council members approved the ordinance, which would limit the use of traps within the city, with a 3-2 vote.
The ordinance will prohibit the use of any kill-type trap in the city’s right of ways and all traps, including live traps, would be prohibited within city parks.
Additionally, the ordinance would require all trapping that occurs on private property, not owned by the trapper, would require a permit and permission from the property owner.
“The landowner needs to be contacted this way,” Council Member Randy Nelson said. “Nine times out of 10 they’re going to say sure.”
Council Member Bill Palmquist had initiated the ordinance discussion as a way to protect private property and public safety.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, unless a property is marked with “no trespassing” signs annually, anyone can go on the property and set traps.
“We don’t want the whole town posting ‘keep out,’” Palmquist said.
Additionally, the ordinance would alert residents to the location of traps in order to prevent pets from being injured.
“Any responsible dog owner every once in awhile should find out where the traps are,” City Attorney Fritz Knaak said.
Afton residents Paul and Tom Christ spoke in strong opposition of the ordinance during last Tuesday’s meeting. Both trap regularly within Afton and other cities throughout Minnesota.
“I don’t see it necessary,” Tom Christ said. “Why should there be an ordinance if there isn’t a problem?”
In addition to trapping for commercial purposes, the Christs said they also help Afton residents with nuisance problems.
“I have no intention to kill animals for no reason,” Tom Christ said. “These critters mean a lot to me - it’s a big part of my life.”
Council Member Joe Richter also spoke in opposition to Palmquist’s ordinance. He also doesn’t see a problem.
“I think it’s kind of an overreach to take care of a problem that doesn’t really exist right now,” he said. “I don’t like to see any animal injured, but to put this out and say this is inhumane, but a mouse trap isn’t and shooting a deer isn’t ...
“This is about too much government, too much regulation.”
The Christs said they were in opposition to the permit requirement because they already receive a permit at the state level, so getting a city permit would be redundant.
“It’s about making sure that everybody knows,” Palmquist said.
Knaak said it is not uncommon to require a trapping permit.
“If you’re going to fix someone’s furnace, you have to come in and get a permit,” he said. “If you’re going to come in and fix somebody’s woodchuck problem, you should come in and get a permit.”
Palmquist’s initial proposal was to ban all trapping within the city, but after speaking with the Christs he said he decided to try to accommodate them.
“It’s a way that preserves your rights, as long as that person knows that it’s there,” he said. “We certainly tempered it and preserved what you’re doing.”