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An end to trapping in Afton?

If you like to trap live game, you might need to find somewhere else to go other than Afton.

Afton City Council discussed the possibility of outlawing trapping within city limits during a workshop on May 23.

Currently trapping for furs is allowed everywhere in Afton - including on private property.

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, which is why Council Member Bill Palmquist said he wanted to bring the issue to City Council.

"I don't want to see everyone having to go post their land just because they learned this is a possibility," Palmquist said.

In addition to protecting Afton residents' property rights, Palmquist said he wanted to initiate the discussion over safety concerns.

Palmquist said he has heard of several instances, in northern suburbs, of pets being caught in traps.

"I think the idea that you can walk through your 20 acres woods and your dog can get stuck in a trap is shocking," he said.

Palmquist said the intent of the ordinance he presented is to protect public health, safety and animal welfare.

No trapping

The ordinance that Palmquist presented to City Council states that "It shall be unlawful for a person to set or use, or attempt to set or use, a body gripping device of any kind designed or intended to take hold of, capture or kill an animal within Afton city limits."

A body gripping device is defined as any type of snare, kill-type trap or leghold trap.

However, the use of cage and box traps, suitcase-type live beaver traps and common rat and mouse traps would be permitted.

"It leaves all of the humane ways of dealing with your problem animals," Palmquist said.

Additionally, the ordinance would not prohibit commercial farming property owners from using selective traps - conibear traps in water, padded-jaw leghold traps and non-strangling type of foot snares -- in order to protect their livestock or crops.

Conibear traps, padded-jaw leghold traps and non-strangling foot snares would also be permitted for use by federal, state, county or municipal staff based on human health and safety or the protection of endangered species.

If anyone should be caught trapping within Afton they will be charged a fine, not to exceed $1,000, or be placed in the county prison for a period not to exceed six months, according the proposal.

Council Member Joe Richter said he didn't see the purpose of approving an ordinance outlawing trapping since there haven't been any reported problems within the city.

"This looks like an ordinance looking for a problem," he said.

Additionally, Richter questioned how someone coming from outside the city would know that trapping would be illegal.

"Ignorance to the law is not an excuse," Palmquist said.

City Council gave no direction to staff during last week's meeting.

"Let's think about it," Mayor Pat Snyder said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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