Selected Articles from our
The C.A.S.H. Courier
ARTICLE from the Summer 2007 Issue
A Grassroots Primer: Recounting The Offensive
By Carol Tresner
Earlier this year I recounted an incident occurring near a forested
Reno park in December of 2006. The trailhead, located near many high-end
homes, happened to be popular especially with women hikers and their
canine companions, and involved two dogs inadvertently captured in
leg-hold traps meant for bobcats. Within weeks, the local Reno paper
featured the mishap in an article which I recognized as an empowering
opportunity to change Nevadaís archaic, almost non-existent trapping
regulations. Trish Swain, who had been a hiking companion of some years
and a supplier of two boisterous dogs eager to run with mine, was
enthusiastic about teaming up with the prospect of trap removal from not
just one of our favorite hiking areas, but state wide.
A key component of our campaign was her expertise with computer functions
and their application: she designed what became the TrailSafe website.
Another factor was the Reno-Gazette Journalís continued coverage of what
became a hot-button issue in the Letters to the Editor section plus
subsequent articles on the subject.
Trish and I gathered support from concerned individuals at various
Citizen Advisory Board meetings which we enthusiastically attended, voicing
our concerns and publicizing the TrailSafe website as a go-to location for
information. She did research, I hatched the idea of an informal citizensí
petition requesting changes in trapping regulations which we presented at
tabling opportunities such as the Home Show, Humane Society events, and most
fruitfully, Earth Day where we gratefully shared space with the Great Basin
Group. Eventually Trish entered over 700 names into our data base/membership
list, most generated by our petition. In contrast, only 611 trappers were
licensed in all of Nevada. Public sentiment was clearly on our side!
On March 30th, four of us attended our first Nevada Department of
Wildlife meeting where we spoke before the commission during the public
comment period. We were instructed to present a formal petition at the next
meeting. Later, we learned the new director, Kenneth Meyer, instructed staff
to assist us with the process for which we are most grateful. After this
initial meeting, Joel Balkeslee, president of the Nevada Trappers
Association, offered to meet with us. Trish declined, but a two hour chat
over coffee was amiable and a dialogue with the opposition was established.
For me, a background of some 20-odd years in Sierra Club-style activism
was invaluable, providing support and networking contacts such as Marge Sill
and Tina Nappe (formerly on the NDOW commission).
Trish made important contacts via the website as well. Any and all Washoe
county public officials who might be seen as sympathetic to our cause were
contacted. It was agreed that support for our petition was to be placed
before the county commissioners as an agenda item. It was necessary to keep
our goals on the public and official radar for the groundswell value.
Sadly, at this point our goals objectives. All our members agreed that
recreational trapping was counter to our values, but what could be
The next NDOW meeting on the 11th of May saw our petition rejected. We
had asked for too much. Both sides were instructed to return with a joint
petition. In Nevada, only NDOW can change trapping regulations. The
alternatives are time-consuming lobbying before the next meeting of the
legislature or an expensive ballot initiative.
The influx of California residents into the Reno area had produced a
change in cultural awareness as well as producing an overflow of homes into
the urban interface. Trapping had a public safety hazard aspect and the
trappers knew this. Realizing the wisdom of some concessions they asked to
meet at the NDOW offices. Other officials were invited and attended,
stressing the importance of our mission and giving us a psychological
advantage, I felt. The arc, in a manner of speaking, was full and launched.
The signed petition covered trails from the Tahoe Rim east, virtually Mt.
Rose to Interstate 80 was in effect closed to snares and leg hold traps
utilized by recreational trappers on public land. The joint petition was
presented by Joel and myself in Elko and unanimously accepted on June 22.
Several attendees including supportive animal rights activist Don Molde
noted that this was a first; a citizensí group petition had never before
succeeded. Yes, much more needs to be done, including the inhumane 96 hour
checking time for trap lines. This summation omits our many dead ends and
missteps, now history.
Tenacity, media exposure, organization, flexibility, wise counsel,
compromise and technology all factored in- yes, luck and timing, too - and
allowed this small but significant victory for what were initially only two
senior women hikers who gave voice to what many others endorsed.
In this case, an offensive of less than six months duration in contrast
to the lengthy campaigns usually waged by admirable activists saw results.
Realize that that person who greets you each day in the mirror might be a
world-changing force waiting to manifest. WHATíS YOUR ISSUE?
Carol Tresner is a founder of Trailsafe. See