DARBY – With wolf trapping season in progress, Bitterroot National Forest officials are urging cross-country skiers around Lake Como to take extra care with their dogs.
Darby District Ranger Chuck Oliver said the agency had reports that about six trappers set 20 or more traps in the area groomed by the Como Trails Club.
The state’s first wolf trapping season officially opened last weekend.
Some of the 25-plus miles of groomed trail near Lake Como follow routes not included on the agency’s official snowmobile system. On those routes, trappers are not required to follow the 150-foot setback regulation, Oliver said.
“They can legally place their traps adjacent to the trail on those particular portions of the groomed trail,” Oliver said.
The trails were groomed for the first time this year on Tuesday.
In the past, trapping has not been an issue in the area, Oliver said.
“There are wolves in the area,” he said. “Skiers see tracks on the south side of the lake.”
Oliver said trappers have put up signs warning skiers about the wolf traps. The agency plans to place its own signs later this week.
Bitterroot National Forest recreation technician Erica Strayer said the agency is recommending that skiers keep their dogs on a leash because of the trapping potential.
Currently, there is no legal requirement that people keep their dog on a leash outside the Lake Como Recreation Area, which includes the campgrounds, picnic areas and boat launch.
“We would like to caution people about the fact that there are live traps in the area,” Strayer said. “They legally can be there. People should probably keep their dogs on a leash or leave their dogs at home.”
Strayer said the agency has heard from a few skiers inquiring about the potential for making the ski area a trap-free area, similar to the Bass Creek Recreation Area between Stevensville and Florence.
Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or at email@example.com.