Pets and Animals

Trappers request to help with fox, coyote issues in Wake County

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Animal trappers want Wake County to reconsider its stance on foxes and coyotes.

Unlike with most wild animals, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission has limited authority to regulate fox hunting and trapping seasons.

Individual counties can decide whether or not to permit fox trapping, but must obtain approval from the state legislature to make the practice legal.

"You have to go to the county first, and ask the county to ask the legislature to run a local bill, and that's what the North Carolina Trappers Association is asking of Wake County," Ches McDowell said.

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"The more Wake County pushes out into these traditionally rural areas, the more interactions with wildlife can become a problem, so trappers solve a number of needs."

Members of the Trappers Association met this week with the Wake County Commission's Growth, Land Use & Environment Committee.

McDowell said animal trapping can protect people, pets, livestock, and agriculture. He said beavers can build dams which flood farmland, so trapping and relocating the beaver can eliminate that problem without killing the animal.

Commission Vice-Chair Sig Hutchinson said he is in the process of learning about animal trapping, but he has seen coyotes and foxes becoming a bigger issue in the Triangle.

"Occasionally we'll come outside and hear these coyotes, maybe on a full moon or something. So I know they're moving into the area. We've always had foxes, but I don't know how much of a problem it is," Hutchinson said.

"This opens up a whole host of new questions, and we'd love to hear from the citizens about what they think about this."

Fox trapping season often overlaps or coincides with hunting season, which is permitted in 85 of the state's 100 counties. Only 43 counties allow fox trapping.     

McDowell said trapping is a very reliable way to handle wildlife resources.

"You know exactly how many animals are coming out of an area. The Wildlife (Resources) Commission studies those numbers, makes findings and recommendations and sets their season based on that," he said.

"The number one group of people concerned about wildlife populations and having healthy populations of wildlife, are hunters, fishermen, and trappers. The resource has to be managed. This is the best way to do it."

McDowell said the general public is unfamiliar with the process and likely has misconceptions.

He said leg traps are designed so as not to harm animals. There are also box traps, which are typically used in areas where pets are more active.

The traps keep the animals alive so they can be relocated, but some will probably be put down in order to limit population growth.

Wildlife enforcement officer Sam Craft said animals trappers must have a special license and written permission from a landowner in order to install a trap.

"Enforcement officers are actively looking for traps, to check to make sure that they are in compliance," Craft said.

"It is one of the hardest things to detect because the majority of traps are hidden. They're not hidden from officers, but from animals, so animals don't see them either," he said.

"The way we find out about most trapping going on is an officer sees someone in the act, or someone sees an animal in the trap, either a wild or domestic animal. Occasionally there's trapping going on in city limits, not necessarily lawful trapping, and someone's pet may get caught."

While trappers may harvest fur from some of the animals they catch, McDowell said fur is not the goal -- population control is.

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