Q: A neighbor of mine is catching cats in live traps. What are the rules on setting a bated live trap in residential areas, and what are the rules if a domestic pet is trapped?
A: “I reviewed all of the Twin Falls County ordinances as well as the city of Filer and I am unable to find anything that would pertain to the usage of live bait animal traps,” said Michelle Agee, deputy prosecuting attorney for Twin Falls County. “The only sections that deal with animal control are concerning loose/vicious dogs and dog control, or animal feedlots or livestock. The only small animals defined as livestock within city or county limits are chickens or rabbits. There is no mention of felines or cats within the codified ordinances of the county or Filer.”
The trapping of companion animals or pets would be considered animal cruelty, Agee said.
“I actually have a pending animal cruelty case where a neighbor stole a neighborhood dog and left it in a rural area without food or water,” she said. “A case could be made for animal cruelty if a person is deliberately trapping a neighborhood cat in a residential area and leaving it without food or water. Idaho has trapping laws and regulations promulgated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that many consider deficient and there are several organizations calling for the re-writing of the trapping laws. I do not think a person trapping and killing neighborhood cats (many of which must certainly be pets) can fall under the purview and protection of the IDFG regulations on trapping. Especially if this person is doing so in a residential neighborhood near children or a school zone.”
Idaho Code 25-3504 and 25-3510 are applicable because the person trapping the cats would be ‘committing cruelty to animals’ and ‘impounding without food or water.’
The county’s prosecuting attorney Grant Loebs said “I spoke with Jim Stirling, an IDFG senior conservation officer about the trapping issue and the IDFG laws, and regulations only apply to wild fur-bearing game animals. However, if a trap is being used on public state land or federal land, the person needs to have a license to trap and an identification number on the trap. If the person is setting these live traps near children or a school zone, then I would think it would be considered a public area and that would fall under IDFG jurisdiction. Also, if he/she traps a wild animal then they are required to contact IDFG. They are also required to check on the live trap every 72 hours.”
Loebs said Gary Truffle with the county’s animal control unit said felines are difficult because if the cat does not have a collar or microchip, then it is considered feral. “If it is considered feral, then the person is not required to contact the local animal shelter, animal control, or find the owner. However, we both agree that if we can prove that the person is trapping and then killing the ‘feral’ feline, then it would be animal cruelty. Also, it would be animal cruelty if the person was dumping the cat in a rural area without food or water. The best case scenario would be if the feline had a collar or is microchipped, a person is required to contact the shelter or animal control within 24 hours, and they must leave the cat with them or attempt to find the owner.”
“Traps have to be set on private property, not on public property,” said Debra Blackwood, executive director of People for Pets. “The person who is trapping on private property has to have permission from the property owner. The animals trapped have to be relocated or disposed of humanely. If there is a concern of animal cruelty they would have to report it to their local animal control.”