Preventing Dog Deaths By ‘Body Grip Traps’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A state lawmaker wants to stop what he calls the senseless killing of dogs.

Last week, WCCO reported about two dog owners who lost their pets to what many call “body grip traps.”

They are used to catch animals like raccoons and bobcats, but several dogs have been caught and killed as well.

“Phillip started screaming in a way I’d never heard him scream,” said Scott Slocum. “I ran to him. I was only 10 feet from him and I saw he was in the jaws of this steel trap. It only took a few minutes and he was dead.”

Phillip was Slocum’s 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier. It was his story on WCCO that caught the attention of Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood).

Phillip is one of six dogs to have been killed by a body grip trap in recent months and Wiger believes many others have gone unreported. A Lake City man’s 6-year-old beagle survived being caught in the trap and is one of the only known cases of survival. But he says it took 15 minutes worth of CPR to save her.

“Media awareness has certainly helped. Many people have talked about what if? It could be anyone’s dog,” said Wiger.

Wiger, along with Rep. John Ward of Brainerd, aren’t asking to ban the trap, but rather change how it’s used. They want the traps moved 5 feet off the ground and placed in a way that dogs can’t get to them. Also, if the traps are used in the water to catch muskrats and other animals, they would have to be completely submerged.

Long-time trappers argue that this method has been used since the 1950s and with few complaints before. However, Wiger says he wants to put an end to a lot of needless grief.

“So many people can relate to that and it’s like the loss of an extended member of your family. You have an attachment to that animal,” said Wiger.

None of the trappers contacted for this story or last week’s story agreed to do an interview with WCCO.

Wiger says he will introduce the bill at the Capitol Wednesday. Twenty-five other states have passed similar legislation.

More from John Lauritsen
  • Trapper Jim

    The Minnesota Trappers Association is pushing the “education” myth. How many more dogs have to be “educated”? It is impossible to prevent your dog from finding one of these traps no matter how much “education” you have and the MTA knows this is a lie.

    Prove me wrong MTA. Publish a step by step procedure that tells a grouse hunter how they can keep their dog from finding a hidden meat baited killer trap. Prove me wrong MTA.

    Someone is also pushing the lie that only 7 dogs have been killed since 2007. The true number is in the many dozens but even 1 is too many.

    Trappers wake up and support this simple change before you get all trapping banned on public land!

  • Stacy

    I’d like to know what we can do to support and help pass this bill at the capitol.
    I’d also like to state that if this trap was ethical and there is nothing to be ashamed of by using it, the trappers asked to particapte in the story would have and would not mind their names being out there.

  • John W. Noraas

    Yeah ban traps and trapping all together then folks will having nothing to complain about when scruffy gets ripped up by the animals these evil bad traps have helped to manage for over 60 years. I tell ya there is nothing like going out in the morning and seeing your dogs cut up and bleeding from raccoons and bobcats. Or finding the skunk and weasels killling your chickens. And the numbers of road killed decomposing bodies on the roads should skyrocket…all that nature that little Jimmy and Suzy get to see on their way to school. *Yes this is called sarcasm…..

    • bah

      Calm down, I don’t think the article said anything about banning traps, just using them in a different way to make everyone happy….maybe even you.

  • Kevin Angulski

    Please contact me. I am a trapper. I will interview, if you want.
    This problem could easily be solved by lowering the legal limit on the size of the opening of these “conibear”-type, or what you call body-grip traps.
    What was being shown on TV was a 7″ by 7″ opening. Allow the 5″ x 5″ opening and coon may still be caught, and no dogs.
    These traps are very humane, in that furbearer animals are caught without no suffering (instant death). Also, many undesirable (undesirable by all, such as skunks) are most efficiantly caught in these type of traps. They are hell for trappers to catch without these traps (leave tremendous odor for trappers who have to shoot them in foot-hold traps).
    I can explain a lot of these other things to you as well, a trappers perspective.
    home 612-588-2468
    cell 612-242-2468
    Kevin Angulski, live in Minneapolis now, have trapped in Central MN for past 40 years, it is an outdoor heritage that few understand. I can answer your questions, and give a different perspective. Please pass this on to the man who plans on introducing legislation. There is much more that I could say.

    • For Phillip

      Huh? What about little Phillip? He could have easily slipped his head in a 5″ x 5″ opening. He was smaller than most coons. Please reply to help me understand the physics of this? What am I missing?

      • Kevin Angulski

        A beagle (small dog) might still get caught in a 5 x 5 opening, but it would not die. The 5 x 5 = 25″ is half the size of the 7 x 7’s that killed the dogs.

  • Trapper Jim


    How do you restrict the size of a box opening small enough to exclude a 20 lb beagle or Jack Russell Terrier like Phillip and still allow a 25 lb coon or 35 lb bobcat to reach the trap?

    A MN Trapper Association trapping instructor name Mark Palas has shown in the April 2011 issue of Fur Fish & Game how to catch coons safely off the ground and catch zero dogs. Fisher and marten are routinely caught in traps set safely off the ground and bobcats are actually easier to catch in footholds. One of the biggest reason why some people use body grips is because they are exempt from the daily trap check requirement. There are also dog proof coon traps readily available.

    • Kevin Angulski

      This is the third time that I will try leaving you a reply.
      Yes. Since the time I posted my first message on here, I have since been advocating for the allowed use of 6″ x 6″ traps in the north of I-94 “bobcat” zone. (see page 46 DNR regulation book). I have been told that is the smallest size that will work for bobcat; and also many bobcat trappers use the conibear with cubby as their preferred trapping mode. Also the biggest ‘coon in the state most commonly come from the central and northwestern part of MN—so the 160 would make sense for them to use as well. Additionally, the dog density is probably lower north of the twin cities and north of I-94.

  • Brock Suska

    Whatever it takes to get the problem solved. Raise the traps, outlaw the traps, tighten the opening of the traps…it needs to get done. Having to witness the anguish my Father has gone through from unsuccessfully trying to save his German Shorthair from one of these is nothing I’d want anyone else to go through.

  • John Kramer

    How about keeping dogs leashed and off private property? I am sure that in most cases around the Twin Cities, there are leash laws that aren’e even mentioned here. The land owners are allowing trapping, set by legal trappers. They have permission to be on the property. Your loose dog does not. If it get in a trap, too bad. ITS PRIVATE PROPERTY!! Relatives of mine live in a northern suburb, the family has been there well before the suburb has developed. The “neighbors” feel it is their right to trespass themselves and let their pets run free. It is not a park for your pleasure…ITS PRIVATE PROPERTY!!!!! In my “Neighborhood”, north of the Cities, it is known that if your dog comes onto private property, It can be “dispatched”due to it harassing our domestic animals and local wildlife. It is perfectly legal. Keep your dogs of other peoples private property and this wouldn’t be an issue. Keep them penned or on a leash!!

  • Rich Johnson

    I would also be willing to do an interview so both sides of the story are shown. I trapped my entire life and never had any problems. There needs to be education on BOTH sides! Restricting the traps are not the answer, 6 dogs killed in a year, how many pets have been killed by vehicles this year? maybe i should push for a law that states vehicles cant go over 10mph in areas that a dog may be present because we wouldn’t want our dog getting hit by a car would we? The argument being used is that trappers need to compromise but, where is the compromise on the other side of the coin? I don’t see hunters agreeing to keep there dogs on a 5ft leash, i mean I’m not asking to ban them, just change the way they are used. although the previous statement sounds completely insane it makes the same amount of sense as making the traps be 5ft off the ground. Just trying to put it into a perspective that more people will understand. Also why did this go from restricting 220s to all bodygrips? There is no dog that is going to get caught in a 110/120 sized trap for mink and very few that would push into a 160. The current law states that the 280 and 330 size traps can only be used when HALF submerged in water, the proposed law would require ALL bodygrips be completely underwater, between the 2 proposed restrictions for bodygrip traps it will pretty much be the end of many people trapping and render the bodygrip, a highly effective trap, completely useless. All this is is a punch in the jaw to trappers trying to make us look like cruel barbaric people. We are not trying to catch dogs anymore than the person that just drove past your house was trying to run your dog over. I would really like to see WCCO show both sides of this story so the truth can finally be told, not just a couple of sob stories trying to get trapping outlawed. What makes everybody else so self-righteous to think they have more right to be in the woods than trappers do? Accidents happen, you and your dog have a higher risk of getting killed in a car accident on your way to the woods than your dog does getting in a trap. We take risks everywhere we go now, Traps are just another one of them that both people need to be aware of and trappers need to use common sense when they use them.

    • Kevin Angulski

      you make some good points here

  • Frankie Dunham

    Ethics and responsibility on all parts would go a long way unfortunately the old trappers I grew up with are all but a handful passed on. I’m left with local trappers who trap next to people’s house where they are catching the family dog while it’s playing with the kids. I’m guessing he’s not to worried about catching hunting dogs or kids for that matter. There are too many people in the woods who don’t belong there because they have no basic sense of accountability. A hunting dog caught in a meat baited killer trap is not at fault here…

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