DWR Investigating Coyote Trap Set Near St. George Airport

Jan 15, 2019, 7:44 PM | Updated: 8:51 pm

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are investigating after a coyote was found in a trap near the St. George Regional Airport. There was concern the trap may have been set too closely to a public area.

There are places near the St. George airport people go to get away from it all. Jill Chatelain, who lives in the area, goes there often with her friend.

The dirt roads and desert environment gives them plenty of room to get away from the growing urban landscape St. George is becoming.

“We were in this location yesterday,” she said. “We allow the dogs to run free so they can get lots of exercise.”

However, during their walk Monday morning, their dogs took off in a way they haven’t seen before.

“The dogs started barking, which isn’t out of the ordinary, except this time it just accelerated,” she said.

When Chatelain and her friend caught up to their dogs, they found them barking at a coyote.

It was alive, but caught in a metal trap clamped to its leg.

“It was in what I would call a stockade, just above its foot,” said Chatelain.

Even though Chatelain understands it is legal to trap coyotes in Utah, she didn’t like seeing it the way it was.

“The method that’s used leaves the animal in shock and in pain,” she said. “My feelings were that there is a better way to trap. I don’t have a problem with there being a price on the head of the animals, I just think there’s a much more humane, sane way of capturing the animal.”

Trappers can earn $50 per coyote as part of Utah’s Predator Control Program.

In fiscal year 2018, a total of 10,589 coyotes were turned in for $529,450 in compensation.

It was a decrease of 8 percent compared with the 11,505 coyotes the year before.

“I believe the coyote population needs to be kept in check,” said Chatelain. “Why isn’t there cages or guns that could be used to do this? It’s more humane than letting them lay there for 48 hours and then shoot them.”

She met with an officer with Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, who euthanized the animal to put it out of its misery.

Even though Chatelain was happy to know the animal is no longer suffering, what bothered her more was the location of the trap.

“There are bicyclists, there are runners, there are children that walk on this road,” she said. “Even other dogs could have got into that trap.”

It’s a case the DWR is looking into.

“There’s an investigation underway. I can’t really discuss the details of it, but we’re looking into it,” said Mark Hadley, an outreach coordinator for Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources.

Hadley says investigators are checking boundary maps to see if the trap was illegally set on public property.

Trapper also have to check their traps every 48 hours to reduce the time an animal may suffer.

Investigators are also trying to find out who owns that particular trap to talk to him or her to get a better understanding of what was going on.

“If the laws were not followed, then there’s a chance that some kind of action might have to be taken,” said Hadley.

Chatelain says she feels bad a coyote suffered.

However, she couldn’t imagine if it was her dog.

Or a child.

“There’s no reason for that trap to be there,” she said.

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DWR Investigating Coyote Trap Set Near St. George Airport