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COQUILLE — One young man recently learned the hard way that wandering off the beaten path can be dangerous.

Coquille Police say the man, whose identity they have not released, suffered a broken leg after accidentally stepping into a beaver trap. The trap was located in some marshy land near Sturdivant Park, along state highway 42.

Police Chief Janice Blue said the man’s dog had gotten loose and he was trying to retrieve it when the accident happened on Sunday afternoon.

Two vehicles with good Samaritans stopped after they spotted a shirtless young man hanging over the highway’s retaining wall. One of the drivers, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the man was screaming “Help me! Help me!”

They called 911 and tried to free the man, but were unable to get the trap loose. It took a firefighter with bolt-cutters to get the job done.

Chief Blue says the trap was one of the ones that were put there, by permission, by a trapper trying to solve a nuisance problem. Beaver dams have been causing flooding in that area, she said.

“The traps are in places where people would not normally be walking,” Blue said. “People should be aware, when entering marshy areas, that there could be traps.”

The incident coincided with the release of a warning from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They say trapping seasons are underway throughout the state and people need to be cautious when hiking. Pets can also become unwitting victims of these traps.

Traps set for coyotes, bobcats and raccoons are the types of sets most likely to inadvertently capture a dog. The organization UtahPAWS has tips on how to release pets from traps on their website: utahpaws.org/pet_safety.

The ODFW also cautions people that it is illegal to disturb or remove the traps or snares of another person.  

If you see traps that you believe are illegally set, do not disturb the trap, but contact Oregon State Police. They can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap.  

Most trapping seasons opened Nov. 15 or Dec. 1 and end Feb. 28 or March 31. A few seasons are open the entire year, but winter is the most popular time to trap.

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