Responsible Pet Owners, Wildlife and Traps

Keeping Your Dog Safe is Your Responsibility

If you allow your dog to run “at large” in wildlife habitat (1) at any time of year, you are breaking the law as defined under the Georgia Wildlife Act. “At large,” under the Act, means unaccompanied by the owner or handler and has been further defined as “not under the immediate control of the owner or handler and not within sight of the owner or handler.” (A dog is not considered to be “at large” if engaged in hunting or training activities under the supervision of the owner or handler as specifically permitted by the wildlife regulations).

Dogs that run “at large” face a greater risk of encountering motor vehicles, exposure to hazardous substances or poisons, contact with diseases from domestic animals or wildlife, attacks by wildlife or other domestic animals running “at large,” and accidental capture in legally set traps. By allowing your dog to run “at large,” you are not only putting your pet at risk of being injured or killed from any of these hazards, you may also be liable for any damage which results from its actions.

When traveling in wildlife habitat (1), unless your dog is well-trained to obey and stay close by, or within your sight, it should be on a leash at all times. Even normally obedient dogs may forget some of their training in unfamiliar surroundings, exposed to interesting scents or upon confronting wildlife. Letting your dog off-lead in the woods is taking a chance. The kindest thing you can do for your pet is to keep it under control.

When you are not with your dog, make sure it is safely secured at home in a fenced yard, chain-link kennel, or secured by other means of containment. You are responsible for your pet and its actions.

(1)- “Wildlife habitat” means any water or land, or combination thereof, where wildlife may be found and the roads and highways thereon.

Regulations Governing Trapping and Hunting

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Georgia Trapping Regulations

Furbearer Species

O.C.G.A. § 27-1-2 (31) “Fur-bearing animals” means the following animals: mink, otter, raccoon, fox, opossum, muskrat, skunk, bobcat, and weasel.

Bobcat and Otter Tagging

All bobcats and otters trapped in Georgia and exported out of Georgia must be tagged with a Federal Export Tag. The tag must be attached by State personnel no later than (10) days after the close of the trapping season.

Licenses

A trapping license is required for trapping and selling fur, hides and pelts.  Click here for license application (must be completed and then mailed or brought to License Office at 2065 US Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025).

Season

The trapping season for furbearers is Dec. 1 – Feb. 29. There is no closed season for the trapping of beaver or coyote in this state.

Wildlife

No wildlife except those specified as furbearers may be trapped at any time within this state, except as may be provided in state law.

Rights-of-Way

It is unlawful to trap any wildlife upon the right-of-way of any public road or highway of this state.

Inspection of Traps

It is unlawful to fail to inspect traps at least once each 24-hour period and remove any animals caught in the traps.

Stamping of Traps

It is unlawful to trap wildlife except with traps which are at all times legibly stamped, etched, or tagged with the owner’s name or owner’s permanent trapper’s identification number provided by the department.

Choke Sticks

It is unlawful to fail to carry a choke stick or similar device while tending traps and to use that device to release domestic animals.

.22 Cal. Rimfires

It is unlawful to fail to carry a weapon of .22 cal. rimfire while tending traps and to use that weapon to dispatch any furbearing animal to be taken.

Permission

It is unlawful to trap any wildlife upon the lands or in the waters of any other person except with written consent of the owner, which must be on the person setting or using the traps.

Body Gripping Traps

Body gripping traps in excess of 9.5 inches square may be used only in water or within 10 feet of water. No. 2 Traps It is unlawful to set on land any trap with a jaw opening any larger than 5.75 inches.

Snares

Snares may be used for trapping beaver provided that snares are set in water or on land within ten (10) feet of water, including swamps, marshes, and tidal areas. All snares must be marked with the trapper’s name or identification number.

 

Sale of Dog or Cat Fur

It is unlawful to sell the fur, hide or pelt of any domestic dog or cat caught by a trap.

WMA’S

The use of traps on any wildlife management area is prohibited except under special permit from the Wildlife Resources Division.

Reports

Within 10 days after the close of trapping season, all trappers must report in writing the number of furs, hides or pelts which have been taken during the open season and the person to whom sold. By completing and returning the Georgia Trapper Questionnaire, which is sent to all licensed trappers, you will fulfill this obligation. Such reports must be mailed to: Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management, Attn: Furbearer Biologist , 1773-A Bowen’s Mill Highway, Fitzgerald , GA 31750.

Exportation of Furs, Hides and Pelts

At least 3 days prior to shipping, transporting or otherwise conveying any furs, hides or pelts outside this state, a written report of the number and type of furs, hides or pelts to be exported and the name and address of the person to whom such furs, hides or pelts are to be shipped must be filed with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. Failure to submit a report may result in revocation of license, in addition to criminal proceedings. Any furs, hides or pelts shipped outside of this state contrary to these provisions shall be declared contraband and seized and disposed of as provided by law. Such reports must be mailed to: Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management, Attn: Furbearer Biologist , 1773-A Bowen’s Mill Highway, Fitzgerald , GA 31750.

Possession, Sale or Transportation of Alligator Hides or Parts Allowed only in accordance with provisions found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 27, and Rules of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Chapters 391-4-11, 391-4-12, 391-4-13, only by licensed alligator farmers and agent-trappers.

Fur Dealers Reports

Within 60 days after the close of trapping season, all fur dealers must report in writing the number of each type of hide, fur, skin, or pelt purchased during the preceding year, the date of purchase, the name of the person from whom purchased, and the person’s trapping or raccoon fur seller’s license number. Such reports must be mailed to: Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management, Attn: Furbearer Biologist , 1773-A Bowen’s Mill Highway, Fitzgerald , GA 31750.

 

The Best Way to Keep Your Dog Safe

• Know when hunting and trapping seasons are open in your area.

• Know who owns the land where you walk your dog and ask for permission from landowners.

• Keep control of your dog at all times and do not allow your dog to run “at large.”

• Keep your dog on a leash while in wildlife habitat.

• Report dogs running “at large,” harassing or chasing wildlife.

• If you hunt with your dog or walk your dog in wildlife habitat during fur harvesting season, in areas where traps and snares may be set, carry a good pair of wire-cutting pliers that can be used to cut wire and free your dog in the unlikely event that it becomes captured in a snare.

• If you encounter a trap or snare, immediately leash your dog and carefully leave the area to avoid other traps that may be in the vicinity.

• Do not disturb any trap or snare and the surrounding area in which the trap or snare is set. If you believe that the trap may be set illegally, immediately notify the local DNR office or, outside normal office hours, call DNR at 1-800-241-4113 to have it investigated.

• Familiarize yourself with the methods to release a dog from a trap or snare. Your knowledge of these methods could save your dog’s life.

 

Removing Your Dog from a Trap or Snare

If a dog is accidentally captured in a trap or snare while in the company of its owner/handler, it is possible to successfully remove it alive if you know what to do. It is essential that you understand and can quickly and calmly follow the steps required to release a dog from a trap or snare. Your familiarity with the dog and its temperament may determine whether or not you will be able to release the dog by yourself. Remember the surprise and shock of being captured may cause the dog to become extremely excited or agitated, even to the state of biting at anyone who comes close to it. Your ability to reassure and calm the dog will be a key factor in securing its release.

 

Body Gripping Traps

Body gripping traps (known as ‘Conibear type’ traps) have a square frame with two rotating jaws. Larger versions typically have two springs. These traps are designed to strike small to medium sized animals in the neck or body and kill them quickly and humanely. Various sizes are used to capture animals ranging from weasels to raccoons and beavers. If a dog is accidentally captured while in the company of its owner/handler, it is possible to successfully remove the dog. To do this it is essential for you to understand and calmly follow the steps outlined below.

 

The only way to open the jaws on these types of traps is to compress and secure the spring(s) on the trap. It is impossible to pull the jaws apart otherwise. Once the spring or springs are compressed, the jaws of the trap will open freely, allowing you to release the dog. Larger body gripping traps are equipped with springs which may be difficult, if not impossible, to compress with your hands. By using a dog leash, rope or belt and following the instructions below, you will be able to create a crude pulley system with increased mechanical advantage, making it easier to compress and secure the spring(s) of the trap with moderate effort.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

This trap is offered in four sizes that are used in Georgia.

I.I Body Gripping or Conibear trap

 

Step 1: Place your foot through the loop end of the leash. You can also use a piece of rope or a belt, but you will have to make a loop in one end. Farthest away from you and feed it back through the eye closest to your foot.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

Step 2: Take the free end of the rope or leash and feed it through both eyes of the spring.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

Step 3: Loop the rope or leash over the spring eye

Step 4: Stabilize the other side of the trap with your foot by standing on the lower edge of the spring.

 Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

Step 5: Pull up on the rope or leash with both hands until the spring is compressed.

Step 6: While still holding the rope, secure the safety hook in place to lock the spring in the compressed position, taking pressure off the jaws. If the trap has a second spring you will jaws. If the trap has a second spring you will need to repeat these steps. With both jaws compressed, you will be able to remove the trap from the dog.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

 

Foot or Leg hold Traps

The term “leg hold” is a misnomer. These traps are designed to capture the target animal by the foot and hold it alive until the trapper arrives to remove it. The foothold trap most likely to be encountered in wildlife habitat is the coil spring foothold trap. While it may be disconcerting to have your dog caught in a foothold trap, accidental capture in such a trap is not life threatening. Provided you are with your dog, and are able to remove the trap relatively quickly, there is little risk of anything more than minor injury.

Your familiarity with the dog, its temperament and how excited it becomes while in the trap will determine whether or not you will be able to release the dog by yourself. If help is not immediately available, it is possible for one person to release a dog caught in a leg hold trap. If, after attempting the steps below, you are unable to remove the dog from the trap, you may need to leave the dog and the trap site to seek help. You may also be able to unfasten the trap from its anchor point (may be attached by wire or chain) and take the dog with the trap still on the dog’s foot to someone who can help you remove the trap.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

Coil spring Leg hold Trap

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

 Your weight on the levers will relax the pressure in the trap jaws, loosening the jaws and enabling your dog to pull its foot free. 

 

Step 1: Secure your dog by pinning it to the ground or holding it in an upright position. Depending on the individual, the size of the trap, and the size of the dog, you may be able to grab both levers with your fingers and, using the palms of your hands, stabilize the bottom of the trap or base plate. Once this is accomplished, pull the levers of the trap toward you with your fingers using one continuous motion. This will release the pressure on the jaws of the trap enough for the dog to pull its foot free or to allow the foot to fall out from between the jaws of the trap. The trap jaws do not have to be completely opened for the dog to free its foot.

Step 2: If the trap is too large to manipulate the levers of the trap with your hands, secure the trap on the ground with both springs pointing upward. Place the inside of your feet simultaneously on both levers and pivot forward using your body weight to compress the levers of the trap. Your weight on the levers will relax the pressure on the trap jaws, loosening the jaws and enabling your dog to pull its foot free.

The duration of time the dog was held in the trap may determine the extent of its injuries. Foot or leg hold traps are designed to hold an animal alive with a minimal amount of damage to the foot. If you are with your dog when it is caught and are able to release it immediately, you should expect minimal injury to the dog’s foot.

 

Snares

Snares set for Beavers in Georgia are generally made of steel aircraft cable and are legally required to have a deer stop, which prevents the snare from capturing deer. Most snares will also have a non- relaxing lock, as a result, the harder the animal fights the snare, the tighter the locking device closes. The intent of this design is to restrain the target animal quickly. Due to their size, snares set for Beaver may present a risk to dogs in wildlife habitat.

Responsible Pet Owners | Wildlife | Traps

Beaver Snare

How and where you let your dog run will determine the likelihood of your pet getting tangled in a snare. In general, hunting dogs or dogs which run “at large” are more susceptible to getting caught in a snare as they cover more ground than the average pet under close supervision and control. The closer your dog is traveling with you, the more likely you are to find it if it becomes entangled in a snare and the less time it will have to struggle and tighten the cable around its neck or body.

Step 1: Try to calm the dog. This will help prevent the snare from tightening further and allow more time to free the dog.

Step 2: Loosen the locking device on the snare to slacken the cable around the neck or body and remove it from the dog.

Step 3: If you are unable to loosen the locking device, try to cut the loop of the snare cable with a set of wire cutters wherever you can best access the cable around the neck of the dog. The best location is often just past the locking device on the loop. You may also be able to pass a finger under the cable around the neck to lift it away from the skin slightly and cut the snare cable at that point.

Step 4: If you are unable to directly cut the cable loop around the dog’s neck, cutting the cable as close as possible to the lock (label A on preceding diagram) may allow you to work the lock a bit, causing this short cut-end of the cable to slip through the hole in the lock, loosening the cable and freeing your dog. Some dogs may not struggle if caught in a snare, but will sit down and wait for their owner to release them. This behavior is far more likely in dogs that are regularly restrained by a collar and a leash, rope or chain. Dogs not accustomed to a leash or to being tied up, tend to fight the snare cable. If your dog is accustomed to spending its time loose in a kennel, house or your backyard, consider getting it familiar to being restrained by a tether.

Never try to release a wild animal from a trap or snare. While it may look docile, it is not used to human contact and you could get seriously scratched and bitten.Call (678)340-3269 to schedule an appointment.

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