The jaws of this trap clamped around the leg of a pet hiking with her family up Chupadera Mesa New Year’s Day in Los Alamos County. Photo by Vint Miller
Los Alamos residents Terry and Dave Dubois and Debbi and Vint Miller were starting off the new year Wednesday with a hike up Chupadera Mesa in Los Alamos County on the north side of Guaje Canyon when the unthinkable happened.
The two couples were walking on the trail with their dogs when they spotted a small strip of fake fur attached to a fishing line hanging from the branch of a tree above them. As they stopped to figure out what it was, the Dubois’ 11-year-old, 30-pound cattle dog mix started screaming “bloody murder.”
“She stepped a foot off the trail and into a buried trap that snapped shut around her leg,” Vint Miller told the Los Alamos Daily Post during an interview this morning. “Terry grabbed the dog and Debbi and Dave tried to pry the trap apart but it would not budge.”
Vint explained that he had just recently watched a video about how to disengage a similar trap so he instructed them and they quickly opened the trap – freeing the dog’s leg from the vice-like grip.
“Miraculously, her leg was not broken and she is in fact doing fine.” he said. “The trap was totally buried and we think there was so much dirt and crap in it that the springs were hampered just enough to save her leg.”
Dave and Vint checked the area and spotted more fake fur hanging by fishing line in trees and discovered two more buried traps.
Terry and Debbi are members of the Mountain Canine Corps involved in search and rescue activities and spend an extensive amount of time training their dogs along the trails.
“It’s illegal to place a trap less than 25 yards from a trail and this one was within a foot,” Vint said. “This could as easily have been a small child caught in that trap. We really want to make everyone aware that these traps are buried out there.”
Los Alamos County Animal Control Ofc. Tom Beyer told the Los Alamos Daily Post that there are possibly several violations involved in this case.
“According to state code, the owner’s contact information must be affixed to all traps and this was not the case,” Beyer said, adding that the distance from a trail as well as a requirement that the owner check all traps each 24 hours was likely not met.
“It may even be a case of abandoned traps that have been there for quite some time,” he said.
Beyer is turning the case over to New Mexico Game and Fish for further investigation and cautions hikers to avoid any area where they see something dangling from a tree and to keep their pets away as it may be a sign that a trap is buried near by.
Link to video on how to release a leg-hold trap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31It7xZSDgA
Link to state code on trapping: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/documents/documents/19_32_2%20NMAC_trapping.htm