Stuffed Toy Dog and Hunting Trap.

A stuffed toy dog stands beside just one example of a hunting trap. In the state of Montana, it is generally legal to place traps on both public and private land, something Footloose Montana claims has led to accidental injuries and death to pets. Photo by Afiq Hisham. 

GREAT FALLS - While using traps to capture prey is a time-honored heritage across Montana, they can sometimes accidentally catch people's pets, resulting in injury or even death. In light of that, a non-profit came to the Electric City Saturday afternoon to teach people how to respond in those kinds of situations.

During a workshop at the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center, members of Footloose Montana emphasized a few key points in saving a trapped pet. Some included ways to protect yourself from unwanted pet bites, using a trap's spring mechanism to release them, and even basic first aid for animals.

But above everything else, the group said keeping calm is very important, since it can help prevent common mistakes.

"Often times people are injured trying to release foothold traps improperly,” said Clare Beelman, a board member with Footloose Montana. “They cut themselves on it. They tend to rush in to help their pet."

There's been nine reports of accidental pet captures last year, according to the non-profit.

If you ever find yourself in such a scenario, you’re asked not to bring the trap(s) with you, since it's illegal under state law to remove them from where they're set. Even so, Clare recommends reporting incidents to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks with as much detail as possible.

The lower the chances of accidentally coming across a trap, FWP recommends keeping pets tied to a leash and close to your person.

You can also reach out to FWP’s Fish & Game Commission at fwpcomm@mt.gov.

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