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Minnesota Man Says 'Hidden' Traps Are Killing Pets

MERRIFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) -- A Northern Minnesota man is concerned that hunting dogs are becoming the hunted.

John Reynolds of Merrifield lost his dog Penni when she got caught in what's called a "Body Grip Trap."

The traps are designed to kill raccoons, fishers and bobcats -- but there have been several reports of pet dogs getting caught in them.

Reynolds is a trapper himself. But the type of trap he demonstrated for us is the kind he wants nothing to do with.

"You can imagine what this would do to the neck of a dog," said Reynolds, as he springs a body grip trap.

There are several names for this type of trapping device, but Reynolds and others call it the body grip trap. It lures prey in-between the springs with grouse or pheasant meat. And it kills quickly -- instantly breaking the neck or the windpipe of the animal. It's a scenario, that last month, became all too real for Reynolds.

On Dec. 17, Reynolds and his springer spaniel Penni were walking around a lake near Emily, Minnesota. Penni ran off and got caught in a Body Grip Trap.

"It took about a half hour before I found her ... and she was dead," said Reynolds.

And he's not alone. Reynolds says at least four other dogs in the area have been caught and killed, as well.

What worries him most is that body grip traps can virtually be set on any public land in the state of Minnesota. Including some parks.

But Reynolds isn't out to get rid of the traps, he just wants the rules to change.

"Every time you go in the woods with your dog you are playing roulette," said Reynolds.

Because the bait is what attracts the dogs, Reynolds would like to see the traps moved off the ground -- where fishers and raccoons can still get them but dogs can't. Twenty-five other states have that type of regulation, but Minnesota does not. And because of what happened to Penni, Reynolds now refers to body grips as 'hidden killers.'

"All we are looking for is a change in the method. It doesn't seem like much to ask. They are good traps, we just don't want them set where our dogs can reach them," said Reynolds.

In 2010, the DNR created regulations that do not allow the traps to be placed near houses or buildings occupied by livestock.

The DNR says they continue to talk with trappers and concerned dog owners about the body grip traps.

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