Too close for comfort

Hikers and hunters share a love of nature, but don’t always live in harmony

Deb Hall was hiking recently with her dogs Nacho and Nugget when Nugget’s foot was caught in a hunting trap.

Deb Hall was hiking recently with her dogs Nacho and Nugget when Nugget’s foot was caught in a hunting trap. Photo by Marci Revette.

— “Just like Lassie,” said Hall.

A young couple heard her cries and the girl was able to free Nugget. Hall said she didn’t get their names, but will always be grateful for their help.

The accident resulted in a $400 vet bill, but not a broken leg for Nugget. Hall wants the public to be aware of the presence of traps and hopes signs will be put up warning hikers of their presence.

Margo Olson, the executive director of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, which is a partial owner of the Wilton Preserve, said a meeting was held by the preserve’s Board of Directors to address the issue. The result of the meeting was a resolution suggesting a 100-foot trap buffer around trails.

“Our board felt it was necessary to make that statement,” she said.

Olson also said a DEC officer spoke to the trapper responsible for the trap that injured Nugget.

“It was a new trapper,” said Olson. “The DEC officer educated the trapper on being more careful with placement.”

Olson said this incident was the first she had seen, and agreed signs should be posted to warn of the danger of traps off of the trails.

“We’ve never had an incident like this before. I think it was just due to inexperience on the trapper’s part,” she said.

What is a more common issue is confusion caused by changing regulations, Olson continued. The Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park is part owner of several trails in the area including Wilton Preserve and Camp Saratoga, and the rules can change for different areas. Camp Saratoga was at one time a Boy Scout Camp and hunting wasn’t allowed. When it was sold to the Nature Conservancy, they also didn’t allow hunting. It was only when it was sold to the state and became part of the Wildlife Management Area that hunting was allowed.

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