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WI: Trapper hit with citation after harming goose

April 2, 2010

Wild goose chase leads to beaver trapping lessons

RIVER FALLS - What began as two women trying to help a wild goose, ended in a fine for one man and a lesson for everyone in beaver trapping.

Friends and fellow University of Wisconsin-River Falls students Daria Sylvan and Janna Grassel became concerned last Wednesday evening after they found and freed a goose from a metal trap that had been underwater in the Kinnickinnic River.

They lay the goose, which had a mangled leg and was in shock, on the bank of the river and called police, presuming they should tell someone about the trap. While the women talked with police, the goose slid into the water and attempted to swim.

People across the river signaled it was over there. The group sought but did not find the goose. Sylvan said she wanted to take the goose to a rehab center; police mentioned possibly "destroying" it.

"I just want the citizens to know the potential danger that lies in the Kinni," Sylvan said in an e-mail after the incident. "I myself have kayaked there.I want this to be known so no one gets hurt." Police called area DNR Warden Brad Peterson, who came the next day to inspect the trap. He knew the DNR was not trapping in the area, and city Planner Tony Steiner said River Falls had not contracted with anyone for wildlife control.

Peterson found the underwater trap, which was properly set, attached to a bait bag and marked, as the law requires.

"Traps are required to be tagged," Peterson said.

The tag enabled police to trace the trap back to UW-River Falls student from Colfax, Tryston Beyrer. According to the police report, Beyrer explained that he'd seen evidence of beaver activity in the area while doing some water research.

The report said, "Tryston stated that he was diligent in researching DNR laws and has a lot of experience in setting traps;" he thought that would be a good spot.

Beyrer did not realize a city law (9.24.010) prohibits anyone from setting traps within city limits that are bigger than 1 1/2 inches. It specifically states concern about the injury of animals.

Police issued Beyrer a non-criminal citation that will cost him $114.

Peterson commented to police that the trap was not well placed but was legal according to DNR standards. Police met with Beyrer to discuss trapping parameters and alternative methods like box traps.

Most involved with the case acknowledge public apprehension about having traps in a river people use so much for recreation. However, underwater traps may only be set during legal trapping season, and in most cases, the trapper needs a landowner's permission to set them.

Beaver-trapping season starts early November and ends March 31. It's almost the same time frame for muskrat and otter, though trapping the latter requires a permit.

The River Falls (Wis.) Journal is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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