Full House, Senate Committee Pass Raccoon Trapping Bill
The full House passed the bill on February 20, 2015, in a vote of 144 to 18. Several Democrats and a few Republicans opposed the measure.
The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee approved the measure on March 19, 2015.
Julie Robertson, Director of Georgia Animal Rights and Protection (GARP), attended the March 20, 2015 meeting of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment.
She had planned to make a public comment, but never got the chance.
Committee Chairman Ross Tolleson (R-Perry) allowed for a public comment period on other bills the committee reviewed during the meeting. But when it came to HB 160, the Chairman made a motion to vote after the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) presented the legislation.
“The first thing I was going to say was to dispute the false information Rep. Dunahoo has been giving,” Robertson told Atlanta Progressive News.
Rep. Dunahoo has claimed the bill is needed because trappers can be ticketed if raccoons are unintentionally caught in their traps. Likewise, citizens who wish to trap raccoons as a form of pest control might fear being ticketed, he said.
This, says Robertson, is false.
There is already a law on the books allowing anyone to apply for a “nuisance permit” which comes free of charge and allows, “the permittee to trap, transport and release, or kill wildlife and feral hogs where such action is otherwise prohibited by law or regulation,” per O.C.G.A. 27-2-31.
Melissa Cummings, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), says that trappers are not penalized for accidentally trapping “non-target” animals.
“I’ve never heard of that… As long as the trapper is licensed and is operating on property where they have permission to trap, there’d be no violation of any laws. They would just release the animal. They are required to check the traps every twenty-four hours,” Cummings told APN.
Even though DNR and Dunahoo may not be on the same page regarding the origins of the bill, Robertson says they are still on the same side of the issue.
That’s because DNR could profit from selling raccoon trapping licenses, and has already advertised a trapping workshop where participants will “learn how to manage land to benefit deer and turkey populations, while controlling coyotes, beaver, raccoons, and opossums.”
But the benefit would not be to deer and turkey, so much as hunters who want ample game.
“This is how the Department of Natural Resources operates. They manipulate it so there is a high deer population so they can say, ‘We have too many deer; we need to sell off more licenses.’ But it’s because they killed off all the natural predators,” Robertson says.
GARP views trapping as “barbaric and cruel.”
“Animals that get caught in leghold cuffs sometimes chew off their own limbs to escape… There’s a risk to cats and dogs as well. When they are accidentally trapped, they often have to have the leg amputated, the injury is so bad,” Robertson says.