Trapping | License Violations | A Defense Lawyer’s Viewpoint | The Criminal and Administrative Problems of Modern Trapping
Trapping in the State of Washington
As criminal and administrative law attorneys, we run into criminal cases involving trapping for two reasons: fur or to remove a nuisance animal. Whatever the reason, it is important to be familiar with regulations governing trapping. Failure to properly follow regulations can open oneself up to criminal prosecution and convictions which can result in a loss of a trapping license and of course, a mark on your criminal record. Our criminal defense attorneys are familiar with the rules and regulations relating to these offenses and enjoy fighting for our client’s rights when dealing with zealous state personnel.
Criminal Charges for Trapping
An individual can be charged with unlawful trapping if they set out traps during the wrong season, in excess of limits, in a closed area, during a closed time, or any other rule governing trapping. This includes failing to attach the owner’s identification to the trap in question. An unlawful trapping charge is a misdemeanor criminal charge. People with nuisance animal problems need to be careful they do not make a mistake and run afoul of criminal charges.
A similar violation is using unlawful traps, which is when steel-jawed leghold traps, neck snare, or other body-gripping traps are used either for recreational or commercial fur. Knowingly buying, selling, or bartering for fur, which was caught with an unlawful trap, is also a violation of the same statute. Using an unlawful trap will result in a gross misdemeanor citation and charge. A criminal conviction will also result in a 5 year revocation of a trapping license and if there is a second violation, the person cannot have a trapping license for the rest of their life
The first step for an individual who wants to start trapping is to take the proper training course. All first time trappers, regardless of their age, must take a Trapper Education training or complete the written examination process through a home study program. Once properly trained, an individual can then apply for the appropriate license to trap. The most common species for trapping are beaver, badger, bobcat, mink, muskrat, raccoon, red fox, river otter, and weasel. The trapping seasons for eastern Washington and western Washington are slightly different but typically runs mid-November through January or February. Please consult with Fish & Wildlife to confirm the specific dates for the species in question before trapping. After the trapping season, the furbearer trapping report will be due by approximately April 20th, and can be submitted online or by mail.
Through the proper training, a trapper will know what types of traps are permitted and prohibited. As criminal and administrative law attorneys, we remind people is important to be aware options are more limited now than in the past due to the passing of initiative 713, which prohibited the usage of certain types of body gripping-traps with violations being criminally prosecuted.
Remember, if you are being contacted by law enforcement or a State agent, there is no such thing as a friendly discussion: their role is to investigate potential crimes and collect evidence. Anything said to them can be used against you in a future criminal case. Thus, the less said to such personnel, the better. Follow our advice for any criminal investigation and contact our legal team immediately to assure your rights and freedom are protected. We know the law, we know courtrooms and we zealously represent our clients.