Trapping season is underway across Sisters Country, and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is putting out the word to dog owners to keep them from inadvertently getting snared.

Traps can be set on public land, but state regulations require they be set at minimum distances from designated trails and public-use areas. Traps may also be set on private land by permission of the landowner.

"Dogs running loose run the risk of being accidentally captured in legally set traps, which could cause serious injury or even death," said Derek Broman, ODFW furbearer coordinator. "To help keep dogs safe and prevent such tragedies from happening, we want their owners to be aware of the possibility of trapping activity in areas where they spend time outdoors with their dogs."

Such a tragedy took place along the Metolius River in February 2012.

Kieri, an 8-year-old wheaten terrier belonging to Jill and Jack Williamson was caught in an unmarked conibear trap placed improperly just 18 inches from the trail near Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. A worker from the hatchery helped free her. Jack Williamson revived Kieri by administering mouth-to-nose breathing.

The dog initially recovered, but several months later succumbed to complications of the neck injuries inflicted by the trap.

Williamson became an activist in an attempt to ban the kind of trapping that ensnared his dog. However, trapping remains a legal activity - with an extensive set of regulations and restrictions.

Furbearer regulations set restrictions on the type and size of traps that can be used and also where trappers may set traps and snares on state and federal lands. Traps may not be set within 50 feet of any designated public trail or within 300 feet of any designated trailhead, public campground or picnic area. Also, killing traps with a jaw spread between seven-and-a-half and nine inches set on public land cannot be placed more than 50 feet from a permanent or seasonal water source.

Oregon has about 1,200 licensed trappers. Before becoming licensed, trappers in Oregon must take an education course and pass an exam that deals with topics like wildlife identification, trapping ethics, and setting traps to catch target animals and avoid non-target animals.

While trappers are responsible for their traps, dog owners are responsible for their dogs.

ODFW recommends that dog owners:

• Keep your dog on a leash, or keep your dog in sight and under voice command; don't let the dog wander off, especially out of sight.

• Keep your dog on designated trails and within designated public-use areas. Traps must be set at minimum distances away from these locations.

• Remember traps are often found near water as many furbearers (beaver, muskrat, nutria) are targeted under-water or the water's edge.

• Remember lures and baits used by trappers can attract dogs, too (another reason to keep the dog under control).

• If the dog is often off trails and designated public-use areas, understand how to release a dog from a trap. Idaho Fish and Game (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/trapped

PetBrochure.pdf) and Alaska Fish and Game (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=trapping.sharing) have brochures and videos with detailed how-tos.

• Carry the appropriate tools (cable-cutter and length of rope) to be prepared in case you need to release your dog from a trap or snare.

It is illegal to disturb or remove the traps or snares of another person. Individuals that see traps they believe are illegally set should not disturb the trap, but contact Oregon State Police. OSP can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap.

Most trapping seasons opened November 15 or December 1 and end February 28 or March 31. A few seasons are open the entire year, but winter is the most popular time to trap because pelts are in prime condition. Trappers are required to submit an annual report on their efforts, harvest, and wildlife observations, which provides insight on over 16 wildlife species statewide.