PA: Hunter takes action after dog dies in illegal trap
January 17, 2010
Owner takes action after dog dies in illegal trap
PATTON - After losing Maggie, a beloved family pet and hunting buddy,
Steven Krug is setting his sights on illegal traps like the one that killed
Hoping the 5-year-old Brittany spaniel's death won't be in vain, he's
telling Maggie's story to remind those who trap to follow state regulations
- and to think twice about what they use and where they put traps.
Krug lost Maggie in a bird hunting trip Nov. 21 outside Patton.
"I just hate to think a good dog like her could come to this kind of
end," Krug said. "But if I can make people cognizant of what could happen,
maybe I can save someone else's dog - the next pet that would accidentally
get caught in a trap like that."
Out for a quick hunt, the pair ended up north of town on a hillside path
near River Drive. While on the path, a squared bucket alongside the trail
caught their attention, and Maggie ran up to investigate.
Drawn by the scent inside, she sunk her nose down into the bucket.
"And suddenly," Krug recalled, "she began to thrash around. I thought
something had bitten her."
The dog had triggered a spring-loaded metal Conibear trap. The body
trap's jaws - wielding up to 90 pounds of pressure per square inch - snapped
tightly around her neck. "I tried all I could to get that trap off her
throat," Krug said, noting that he tried to squeeze the trap's springs to
loosen the clamping jaws to no avail.
Within moments, Maggie died in his arms, he said.
"I saw the light go out of her eyes," he said, choking back tears.
Still, he struggled for 10 minutes to open the trap before one jaw
released. Krug tried to resuscitate Maggie with no luck before carrying her
home, where she was buried.
"It was brutal seeing her die - I had trouble sleeping for weeks," he
said, describing Maggie as an "intuitive, special dog. She was absolutely
part of our family."
It turned out the trap was an illegal one. Size 220 traps - with a 7-inch
jaw spread when set - are larger than the state permits, guidelines show.
"If the trap was the proper size, it probably wouldn't have killed his
dog," said Game Protector Shawn Harshaw, who investigated the incident.
Fines for an illegal trap range from $75 to $200. There is also a similar
levy for unlawful taking of animals, he said.
The trapper didn't have tags on the trap - another requirement - but
apparently after the story spread through town, he heard what happened and
turned himself in, Krug said. "People heard," he said. "I must've received
20 sympathy cards from members of the community."
The trapper was cited a few days later, but Krug didn't identify the man,
saying he's only trying to make an example of what recklessness can cause.
"I'm sure he wasn't trying to kill my dog, but there are plenty of good
trappers out there, and if people are using illegal traps, it makes everyone
look bad," Krug added.
Harshaw agreed. When doing their jobs properly, trappers are providing a
valuable service, he said.
"Trapping is necessary - it's one of the only ways to control populations
of some of these animals, like raccoons, skunks and muskrats," Harshaw said,
adding that, like hunting, there are rules to follow.
With Conibears, for example, only a few small sizes are legal in the
state. They should also be set in buckets - and underwater - or at least
away from paths, he added.
"Usually the traps are underwater, so if a dog gets caught up in one,
it's usually their leg," Harshaw added. "You don't see too many dogs putting
their heads underwater. So this kind of case wouldn't normally happen."
While calling Krug's situation very rare, he said it also can serve as a
reminder to hunters that they, too, should ensure they are familiar with
"It's important to know how they work so that if something happens, they
can release the animal safely and quickly," Harshaw said. "The faster you
can react, the better.".
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