Trap Free Montana

A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization

Promoting education, modern day science, and non-lethal alternatives to trapping that foster responsible stewardship and respectful coexistence with wildlife.

Woman Who Released Eagle in Traps Being Sued By Trapper

October 16,2015 - Juneau, Alaska

Judge: Hiker liable for springing traps, but trapper did not prove damages

Judge rules Kathleen Turley does not owe the trapper, John Forrest, any money. He could not prove his losses. Wonder if his income tax returns would have helped?

Judge Thomas Nave wrote, “The court cannot find by clear and convincing evidence the acts committed by Ms. Turley were outrageous, including acts done with malice or bad motives or they evidenced reckless indifference to the interest of another person."

But, can the same be said of the trapper? Because trapping is legal, doesn't make it right. When did the trapping of a bald eagle, a protected animal, become legal? Where is its defense and the charges?

Some interesting points from the hearing:
Ms. Turly's attorney asked, "What if a dog was caught in a trap, and there were several other traps in the same vicinity. Would it be illegal for a person to set off the other traps, so once the dog was freed, it wouldn’t get caught in another one?"

Zane Wilson, attorney for Juneau trapper John Forrest, said "they were before the court because Turley was “unapologetic” for setting off traps that they considered unrelated to the eagle, and that she should “learn something from this exercise.”
Photo of eagle in a trap on Davis Trail in Juneau, Alaska
So where is the trapper's apology, charges, restitution and payment for the bald eagle he trapped that had to be euthanized? 

What did the trapper "learn from this exercise"? Forrest's testimony on the witness stand is quite indicative, “I thought it was a great photograph, and if I hadn’t personally caught the eagle, I’d say....

To try to avoid the trapping of eagle, in Montana, – No trap or snare may be set within 30 feet of an exposed carcass or bait, more than one pound in weight, which is visible from above. However, eagles hop along the valley floor and fall victim to traps and snares.
Photo of eagle in a trap showing bait on Davis Trail in Juneau, Alaska
This bait would apparently be legal in Montana, too. 

A minimum of 15 reported raptors, including numerous golden eagles, goshawk, bald eagle, and owls, fell victim to traps and snares in Montana from Jan 2013 through Mar 2015. They do not have to be reported if they can be released "unharmed". This determination generally falls upon the trapper.

Golden eagles in Montana are declining and have researchers concerned.

Thank you to all that contacted the Governor of Alaska and voiced your objection to trapping and this eagle case and subsequent law suit, in particular.

Article from the hearing
Article on judge's ruling

Photo courtesy: Kathleen Turley of the trapped eagle on Davis Trail in Juneau. 

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