Mat-Su Borough Assembly bans traps in some parks, on school grounds
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly voted Tuesday night to ban trapping in eight recreation areas and on school grounds. Less than 24 hours later, an Assembly member has asked for reconsideration of the ordinance, according to a borough spokeswoman.
The ban was sponsored by Assembly member Dan Mayfield, who said at least three dogs have been caught in traps and treated by borough animal care personnel in recent years, and even more had been treated by local veterinarians. Some of the injuries were significant, according to Mayfield. His measure also includes phrasing that states children could also be injured by traps near trails or schools.
Sullivan stated a total of 11 injured dogs were reported to the borough in the past five years, and two other dogs more than 10 years ago.
His measure passed with a vote of six to one, with Steve Colligan opposing. If it is left to stand, according to borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan, it would ban trapping in the following parks — Crevasse Moraine, Matanuska Lake, Lazy Mountain Recreation Area, Matanuska River Park, Alcantra Athletic Complex, West Bodenburg Butte, Reflections Lake and Jordan Lake Park in Big Lake. Assembly member Barbara Doty said it doesn’t cover the Government Peak Recreation Area where state and borough land ownership agreements mix, but are undergoing work.
The measure dictates a fine of $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for a third.
Mayfield said the measure was requested by a group of people that collected 3,568 signatures.
“We want to make sure people can recreate safe from devices that could be harmful to them or their pets,” Mayfield said in an interview. “We ended up with a collaborative ordinance that really recognizes what people want on the trail system.”
Prior to the vote, trappers stated their opposition to the measure during the public comment portion, but more people spoke in favor of the measure, according to Sullivan. She said one trapper voiced concerns to an Assembly member about trapping throughout the borough. Doty said in her closing remarks that she believes the rules are not only protection for pets and their owners, but for trappers as well.
“It serves the trapper community to have a clear definition, and I agree with Mr. Mayfield that this was a collaborative effort to really make clear guidelines that last for a long time rather than a stopgap measure,” Doty said.
Mayfield acknowledged the conflict between the two sides, representing parts of the second-largest borough in Alaska.
“More and more people are looking for healthy ways to recreate,” he said at the Assembly meeting. “We need to be able to give folks an opportunity to recreate in a healthy manner. As many of you have said this borough is gigantic. There’s many areas to trap.”
On Wednesday, Assembly member Randall Kowalke requested a reconsideration of the measure, citing issues Assembly member Jim Sykes brought up during the meeting about the ability to enforce the ban in some areas based on the proposed outlines. The ordinance states “there shall be no trapping within Borough maintained trails or within 100 [feet] of the Borough maintained trails.”
“It is my hope that we can actually have a map to see what areas are being affected with this ordinance, clear wording as to what the ordinance actually says AND the possibility to add some other locations,” Kowalke wrote in his request.
According to Sullivan, the Assembly will revisit the issue on March 21.
“The Assembly could amend it, delete it, or leave the ordinance as is,” she stated.
KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard contributed to this report.
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