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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Roadside trapping debated

Monday, February 9, 2009

On Tuesday, Feb. 3, we began the first round of debate on LB 5, my bill to repeal the ban on county roadside trapping. There were four amendments introduced and two of those were adopted. One of the amendments adopted was AM132 allowing any county to enact a resolution prohibiting the trapping of wildlife in county road rights-of-way. AM185 was also adopted to allow counties to ban trapping in just certain areas of the county rights-of-way. After much debate and filibustering attempts, LB 5 advanced to Select File.

There were many "what if" scenarios brought up, but none of them based on the facts. The fact is that a trap, which was legal prior to the ban, will not kill a dog or seriously injure a human. These traps are not large clawed traps that you see in the cartoons; they are surprisingly small with no jagged edges. In the instance where a dog was killed, the trap was illegal. Nebraska Game and Parks (NGP) found the offender and prosecuted him.

Many of the concerns suggest misunderstanding of what was legal prior to the ban two years ago. For years, prior to the passage of the current ban, the activity of trapping in county road rights-of-way was legal. During the trapping season (November -- February), a fur harvester had to follow strict regulations required by NGP. Only traps with a jawspread of five inches or less were legal in the right-of-way unless under water or six feet above ground. Permission of the landowner or operator had to be used, and no trap was permitted within 200 yards of any dwelling, feedlot, or livestock crossing without permission. These are the same rules NGP would reinstate if LB 5 passes.

To demonstrate how a smaller legal trap was not dangerous, I invited a wildlife biologist from NGP over to a senator's office. There we witnessed a hand being snapped by what would have been a legal conibear trap, and we witnessed a foot setting off a spring trap, neither causing injury.

There are reasons for LB 5, and they are to prevent beavers and muskrats from building dams in culverts and creeks, badgers from digging holes in roads, and raccoons from eating crops. Trappers helped keep road maintenance and property damage to a minimum, which many trappers provided free. It is also a tool for landowners and income for fur harvesters. LB 5 will be good policy for Nebraska.

Lastly, I would like briefly to touch on the Nebraska Supreme Court's opinion released on Friday regarding the property tax in LB 701. The opinion agreed that it was unconstitutional, but did not touch on the closed class issue; they ruled that it was a property tax for a state purpose. It is my proposal that we open the closed class to the fully and over appropriated districts and let the occupation tax take care of all the needs so that we can move forward. If you have any questions or concerns I can be contacted at mchristense@leg.ne.gov.

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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