Side by side, veteran Minnesota wardens train rookies
ISLAND LAKE, Minn. — Leah Kampa approached the trap, set for fisher or marten, that was sitting on top of a horizontal fallen tree about 18 inches above the ground.
“This one looks good. It’s legal,” she said as she got closer. Inside a small wooden box a conibear 120 trap was set, ready to grab one of the forest furbearers that are open to harvest for just six days each year.
At this site, north of Island Lake, the trap was legally placed and marked with the trapper’s name and address. That wasn't the case the day before when Kampa, a Minnesota conservation officer in training, and her veteran partner, Kipp Duncan, found two illegal traps.
With their pelts valued at over $100 each, fisher and marten are worth the while for trappers to go after this year. Trappers can take two of the animals each season. But because of a special rule in Northeastern Minnesota’s “lynx management area,” aimed at protecting the small forest cat, fisher/marten traps must be a specific size in an effort to keep lynx out.
“The opening is clearly too big,’’ Kampa said measuring the non-conforming box the trap was set into. “And the setback is too much. They also didn’t have the proper identification on it.”
The trapper in question did respond to a note left on the trap by Kampa to call her, so the officers now know the guilty party. If the case is prosecuted it could cost the trapper their trapping privileges for a year, along with a hefty fine.
“We’ll see where it goes,’’ Kampa said.
For full article, go to: Brainerd Dispatch