A worried Queenstown dog owner wants cowboy possum hunters to quit setting traps near local tracks.
Anna Gilbert’s pooch Molly – a boxer-huntaway – got caught in a gin trap metres off the Sunshine Bay walkway recently and the pregnant owner had to scramble to rescue her.
“I eventually managed to free her but I heard her screaming and stuff so I had to clamber through the bushes,” Gilbert says.
“She’s a big dog so she’s fine, but if it had been a Jack Russell or something then I think it would’ve broken her leg.”
It’s the first time Gilbert, who walks Molly in the reserve most days, has encountered a trap – which was gone when she returned to the area that night.
“I just want people to be aware because the traps should not be there,” Gilbert says.
Her dog lover flatmate Damian Keight agrees.
“I know it sounds harsh saying lucky it’s a dog, but if it was a kid … it was only a couple of metres off the track,” Keight says.
Department of Conservation Wakatipu’s Barry Lawrence points out there are strict regulations for setting possum traps.
“People aren’t allowed to put traps on public land without consent of the land owner or land administrator,” he explains.
While rules differ depending on who looks after the land, traps can’t be within 30 metres of walking tracks – and warning signs are also required, Queenstown Lakes District Council district forester Briana O’Brien says.