Beaver traps. (dave1/Flicker Creative Commons)

Beaver traps. (dave1/Flicker Creative Commons)

The Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee decided at a meeting this month to write a letter to the state in opposition of local trapping regulations in Skagway. Committee members say the local restrictions are overreaching.

In 2014, the Skagway borough assembly passed an ordinance that instated trapping restrictions in borough code. The trapping debate started when a resident saw a trap on public property near their house, and brought their concern to the municipality. Some people were worried about pets getting caught in traps.

“From there it kind of spiraled out of control, really,” said Skagway resident and fish and game advisory committee member Luke Rauscher.

It turned into a divisive issue in the community. After many meetings, the assembly approved a trapping ordinance that bans ground traps within an eighth of a mile of borough roads and trails, among other restrictions.

“And I guess my concern is that we have a municipality regulating and enforcing trapping regulations mostly based on ideology,” Rauscher said.

He says it seems the municipality is keeping the ordinance because it hasn’t been challenged. So, the committee decided they would challenge it.

“I don’t want to see the kind of environment or political climate that keeps telling us what we can’t do,” said committee member Terry Pardee.

Fish and Game Area Biologist Stephanie Sell was on the phone at the meeting. She agreed that Skagway’s trapping code is overreaching. She says state regulations are liberal in Unit 1D, which encompasses Skagway.

“As far as the state’s concerned, there’s really no restrictions for trapping besides you just have to mark your gear in the field and just be smart,” Sell said. “So the actual ordinance, they’re in that gray area where they’re flirting with regulating trapping.”

Sell says it’s the State Board of Game’s responsibility to regulate trapping, and Skagway is putting the cart before the horse by circumventing that body’s authority. She said the fish and game advisory committee should also have been consulted.

“I mean that’s the whole point of what you guys do, you’re the voice of the community to the state,” Sell said. “So it’s kind of undermining what you guys are meant to do.”

Skagway committee members Rauscher and John Tronrud and Haines member Randy Jackson plan to write a letter to the Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner and the State Department of Law. Jackson says one of the central complaints they’ll include is the fact that the advisory committee was not involved in the process Skagway took to pass the restrictions. At the next advisory committee meeting on November 20, Jackson says the group will review the letter.

Trapping for wolverine and beavers opens in early November and for marten in December.