The Trapping Law Works

M.G.L. Ch. 131 § 80A The Law Works

One of the major claims that proponents of trapping make is that loosening restrictions on body gripping traps will allow people to get assistance with wildlife problems more easily. The MSPCA disagrees.

Claim:  M.G.L Ch. 131 § 80A is Cumbersome and Confusing and Isn’t Working

   -   permitting procedures are too cumbersome; there is too much red tape

   -   interpretations of the law vary from town to town

   -   citizens are frustrated about getting assistance

 MSPCA Response:

   -  the law can be cumbersome and confusing, yes - the red tape is designed to discourage indefinite use of the conibear trap and encourage the use of non-lethal alternatives like water flow devices that provide long-term, effective solutions to beaver problems

   -  the MSPCA has comprehensive information on its website, including a flow chart that details the process

   -  the state Departments of Public Health and Environmental Management both have guidelines for local health authorities and conservation commissioners that were sent to every city and town after the July 2000 changes - both can also be accessed on the website

   -  the law was designed so that local health officials would not be given a mandate but could use their expertise to be flexible in determining what, in their expert opinion, constitutes a true emergency that threatens human health and safety, so interpretations do vary from town to town

   -  citizens have always had frustrations with the complex and troublesome issue of getting assistance with beaver problems - finding effective, long-term solutions has never been easy, in fact, changes to the law in July 2000 were made in reaction to serious complaints that MassWildlife was not responding quickly enough to requests for assistance with beaver problems - now there is some local control

   -  in a survey of local health boards conducted by the MSPCA, 48% of responding towns (64 of 133 cities and towns) had issued or denied permits for solving beaver problems - 210 emergency permits were issued, of which 71 clearly indicated trapping would be used; 20 emergency permits were denied; the survey also showed that 36% (48 of 133 cities and towns) of respondents stated that they believe the law is working

   -  water control devices are being effectively used in Massachusetts; a major component of the 1996 Wildlife Protection Act and the subsequent July 2000 changes to M.G.L. Ch. 131 § 80A was to encourage non-lethal alternatives to trapping beaver. In fact, more than 700 sites all across the Commonwealth have been resolved by Beaver Solutions; many more conflicts have been resolved beyond state lines by various experts

   -  public concern about beaver problems seems to have declined, according to an MSPCA survey of Massachusetts daily and weekly newspaper articles on the subject