Weather Forecast


Loss of family dog turns rural Brainerd woman into advocate for trapping changes

Count Katie Tretter and her family of rural Brainerd among those calling for legislation to restrict the use of body-gripping traps.

Tretter contacted the Brainerd Dispatch Thursday to report that Birdie, her 4-year-old British Labrador, was killed Dec. 30 after being caught in a body-gripping trap on her neighbor’s property, about five miles east of Brainerd. Her family lives on Mud Lake.

DNR Conservation Officer Jim Guida investigated the incident and confirmed the death.

Tretter said Birdie, who was a trained upland and water fowl dog, wandered onto a neighbor’s property and was killed by a body-gripping trap that had been baited with fresh meat. The dog was a house dog who had been included in their Christmas card.

“It’s just ridiculous they can set these traps,” Tretter said.

She said she believed the trap, which was on private property, was legal.

“It’s not like our dogs run and roam,” she said. “Other traps can be used.”

Tretter says her family members also trap but do not use body-gripping traps.

“It’s just complete negligence to put that type (of trap) on the ground,” she said.

She advocated for body-gripping traps to be used only when they’re submerged or five feet above the ground.

Buzz Neprud of Crosby, a director of the Minnesota Trapping Association, referred questions on the issue to the association’s attorney, Gary Leistico. A message was left for the attorney but he could not be reached Thursday.

Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, introduced a bill last session that required such traps to be five feet above the ground or submerged in water. He said representatives of trappers and dog owners met Saturday and agreed on some but not all issues involved in possible legislation. Ward said he has made both groups aware of legislative deadlines and hopes to build legislation around a consensus between the two groups. If no consensus is found Ward and Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, will consider legislation on the body-gripping traps issue.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860