Fritz, an Australian shepherd mix and the beloved pet of John Beere and Cindy Corder, died on Jan. 20 while out for a walk at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery near Otis, Ore. The dog was strangled by an 8-inch conibear trap set to kill river otters that had been eating rainbow trout out of the hatchery’s ponds.
Sally Mackler of Eugene-based Predator Defense says there were not adequate warning signs for the traps. Corder had been taking the dog there for eight years, Mackler says, and the herding dog would run ahead, and then run back to his owner. When Corder saw the sign, 15 feet off the pathway, she called to her dog to come back. Fritz didn’t come back and by the time she had found him, he was dead.
Michelle Dennehy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the trap was set by USDA Wildlife Services “in a brushy area, which isn’t typically used by people or dogs” at the request of ODFW. She says that “signs were posted in the vicinity of the three traps; the first sign was 15 feet in front of the first trap,” and that the location was chosen because it was not often used by humans but was by otters. Dennehy says that when it comes to wildlife damage, “trapping is our last resort.”
Mackler says that this is the third dog injured or killed on or very close to public lands in Oregon within a year. Fritz’s owners say that they saw no signs coming into the hatchery and no signs along the path.
Mackler asks, “Can you imagine if a child had stepped into that trap, if it has the ability to kill a 65-pound dog? It’s frightening.” She says the hatchery workers themselves were sympathetic and even offered to bury Fritz along the loop trail where he used to play.
Predator Defense says that at every legislative session ODFW is allocated funds to contract federal trappers from the Wildlife Services lethal control program, and in the last two-year period a minimum of $840,000 was given to ODFW and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to kill predators, including the river otters targeted by the Salmon River Hatchery. The group has lobbied for years to end the Wildlife Services agency as well as to put tighter restrictions on trapping in Oregon.
For more information on the issue go to http://predatordefense.org