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  • Writer's pictureGina Scrofano

Dog Caught In Hunting Trap, Merrimack PD Investigates

Merrimack, New Hampshire police are investigating an incident involving a dog that was caught in a hunting trap over the holiday weekend.

The Merrimack PD assisted with the situation on December 29th at approximately 4:30pm in an area located between or around Back River Road and Bedford Road. The police are not providing any further information to the public at this time as an investigation is ongoing.

Residents were speculating that the dog was put down. On the evening of the 29th, a Merrimack resident took to social media via a closed Merrimack forum Facebook page, inquiring if anyone heard two "big bangs" near Bedford Road/Woodridge Road around 5:40pm.

Other residents posted comments, replying that they also heard the very loud bangs and that they witnessed several police units and emergency personnel on Back River Road and around Dumpling Brook.

One resident commented that he "heard" there was a dog stuck in a coyote trap and that the two loud bangs may have been the sound of the dog being put down by gunshot. However, the resident did later add that the shots were speculative, as it had not yet been confirmed. The original post, along with all the comments have since then been removed.

However, residents will be relieved to hear, that according to updates, although the dog suffered injuries, he/she was taken to the vet and is doing okay. The details on the injuries have yet to be released.

As to the exact trap type and what the intended species was is currently unknown. The police log states, "Dog caught in hunting trap." No further details are specified.

Was The Trap Lawful?

Any person (unless under the age of 16 and accompanied by a licensed trapper who is at least 18 years old), must have a trappers license to set traps in NH, unless on their property. This means that if the trap was placed on the trapper's own property, it was most likely lawful regardless of them having a license.

All metal traps used by licensed trappers must have the trapper's name stamped, engraved, or on a durable tag securely attached to it (RSA 210;11, II). If the trap were without such identification, the trapper would be in violation of the law.

Within Dumpling Brook

Dumpling Brook is a one of the 124 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) owned by the Fish and Game Dept in the Granite State. Hunting and trapping are lawful in Dumpling Brook with a permit, during the open seasons and in accordance with NH Fish and Game laws and rules (e.g., RSA Title XVIII, fis 300, fis 900).

Those wishing to trap in Dumpling Brook must have a trappers license, and a trapping permit for state-managed lands (unless designated as one of two 'trapping helpers' by a permitee). Those permits are issued via a lottery system every two years, or on a first come, first served basis for areas in which no trappers have yet to apply.

If the trap was set in Dumpling Brook and the trapper has a trappers license and trapping permit for that area, the trap was most likely lawful unless it was placed on a "commonly used" passageway, as discussed more below.

Merrimack, New Hampshire, Map showing Dumpling Brook, Back River Road and Woodridge Road

Outside Dumpling Brook

The police log lists the location of the incident at, "0 Back River Road and 0 Bedford Road." This could have been used to provide an approximate location for Dumpling Book, or it could mean that the trap was set outside of the WMA. It is noteworthy that the corner of the two roads is outside of Dumpling Brook.

According to NH law, "No person may set or arrange any trap in a public way, cart road, or path commonly used as a passageway by human beings or domestic animals." (RSA 210:11, III) Unfortunately, the law does not define "commonly used."

Where Back River Road and Bedford Road meet, it seems to be a moderate to high traffic location, with some wooded areas surrounded by residences.

Fur-Bearing Trapping Seasons

Coyotes are currently hunted all year long, with a trapping season of Oct. 15, 2018 – March 31, 2019, in mid to northern NH (WMU A-F), and Nov. 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019, in mid to southern NH (WMU G-M), with no take limit. This means that the coyote trapping season was underway when the incident occurred.

Trapping seasons for all other fur-bearers, such as mink, fox, and opossum are also open in Merrimack throughout December.

Euthanasia By Gunshot

It is lawful in the state of NH to put a dog down via gunshot by an owner or with an owners permission. The American Veterinary Medical Association considers euthanasia by a gunshot to the head to be humane if performed by "highly skilled personnel trained in the use of firearms" and if in "emergency situations in which withholding death by gunshot will result in prolonged, unrelieved pain and suffering." However, the AVMA also states, "Gunshot is not recommended as a routine approach to the euthanasia of dogs" and "should not be used when other methods are available and practicable.(1)

Further Details

The NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division was not available for immediate comment. Updates will be posted once more information becomes available. Our hearts go out to the dog owner, and any family or friends affected by this disheartening incident.

Cover Image: Trap not associated with indecent.

Update: Article has been updated to reflect the latest information regarding the dog's condition.

(1) American Veterinary Medical Association, "Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals," 2013,, Pg 45-46, Last visited Jan 2019.

Straight Twist, Logo, Animal Welfare


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