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Hardy2
December 27, 2006

Town Will Prohibit Use Of "Body-Gripping" Traps


The tragic death of Gail Murphy's dog, Zephyr, revealed an unimaginable danger that exists throughout the state — traps set by hunters that kill or maim pets and children. The county and Southampton Town moved quickly to outlaw the use of traps. East Hampton? Not so quick.

In the wake of a tragic accident in which a household pet was killed by a hunting trap, the Southampton Town Board suggested making use of body gripping traps on town property illegal.

If passed, the amended code would prohibit traps from being placed at town-owned beaches and parks, trails, preserves, sanctuaries and CPF purchased lands.

In December, Gail Murphy was walking her dog "Zephyr" a 75-pound pit bull mix, in the Long Pond Greenbelt. Zephyr went off the trail and stuck his head into brush where the trap was hidden. The large body-gripping trap, known as a Conibear, killed the dog within two minutes.

"This was almost like a land mine," said Sara Davison the executive director of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. The organization rescued the dog from the Bahamas in 2004 after Hurricane Francis badly damaged the Humane Society of Grand Bahamas' shelter.

Murphy, unable to pry the trap off, brought Zephyr to ARF for help, but it was too late.

"It's very complicated," Davidson said of the trap. It took an ARF staff member and a police officer to undo it.

"Who the heck knows why this trap was in our preserve," said Supervisor Patrick Heaney during last Friday's town board work session.

Traps are supposed to have tags that identify the owner and data on the person's trapping license, but this one was not tagged. No additional traps were found by town enforcement after a search of the area.

Murphy and ARF reached out to Southampton Town Trustees who invited them to their meeting on January 3 to discuss the need for legislation prohibiting these types of traps on town owned land.

"Gail Murphy and ARF are just thrilled with the speedy response to this tragedy," said Davidson.

The public hearing on amending the Beaches Parks and Waterways chapter of the town code to include this prohibition will be held at town hall on February 28 at 1 p.m.

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