If an animal is damaging property, CPD says the type of trap that can or cannot be used is not specified in DNR regulations

    In the middle of the night one day last week, a mother and her daughter on Crookston’s south end were awoken by what sounded like chains jangling. After searching to find the source of the sound, they discovered a cat stuck in an egress window well outside their house, but the sound wasn’t from a bell on its collar, it was from a jaws-style trap clamped down on one of its legs.

    The pair tried to calm the cat down by throwing a sheet over it, but in the process of getting it out of the window well, the cat bit the mother, and the Crookston Police Department was subsequently contacted. Responding officers took the cat away to have the trap removed and get it medical attention.

    When the story was brought to the Times’ attention, the Times subsequently spoke to CPD Lt. Darin Selzler, with the beginning of the conversation based on the assumption, from the Times’ point of view, that using a jaws-style trap within City limits was illegal.

    It’s not, though, Selzler said, acknowledging that he, too, was a little surprised to learn that fact.

    There’s not a lot of language or detail in the City codes relating to trapping animals, so in that event the City defers to what the Minnesota Department of Transportation has on its books. And the DNR regulations indicate that if you own and occupy your residence and there is an animal causing damage to your property, you can trap it. The key, Selzler said, is the language does not indicate what kind of trap you’re supposed to use.

    “In all honesty, I posed the question, like, ‘Really? They can use any kind of trap?’” Selzler said. “It doesn’t say what kind of trap, and it doesn’t specify rural or urban.”

     The DNR regulations indicate that if an animal is trapped and dies as a result, the DNR must be notified.

    Asked if he thinks someone on Crookston’s south end placed the jaws-style trap to catch the cat or some other animal like a raccoon, Selzler said officers checked with some neighbors of the mother and daughter and were unable to get any information on who might have placed the trap. It’s possible that the trap was placed at a residence outside of City limits and that the cat eventually made its way into town, he said, adding that the veterinarian who treated the cat indicated that it appeared the trap had been clamped down on the cat’s leg for “some time.”

    “Our hope would be that someone in town didn’t do this with the intent of injuring a cat,” Selzler said.

CPD has traps for check-out

    Selzler said the CPD has an inventory of live, cage-style traps that people can check out any time to catch stray cats, dogs, raccoons or other animals who are being a nuisance. They get a lot of use, he added.

    “People are checking them out almost every day,” Selzler said. “That would certainly be our preferred method (of trapping nuisance animals). It’s obviously a more humane way to do it.”

    He stressed that people can’t just trap a bunch of animals without cause. “An animal must be damaging your property; it can’t just be bothering you,” he said.

    If an animal is injured or killed in City limits in a trapping situation and it’s determined the situation didn’t rise to the level of property damage being inflicted by the animal, Selzler said it’s possible that animal cruelty charges could come into play.