Members of Plain City village council are divided over how to proceed with legislation regarding the regulation or ban of leg traps.
While some council members expressed their opposition to any legislation during council’s regular meeting Monday night, others supported some type of regulation banning leg traps, but allowing box traps.
At the end of the evening, no action was taken on the issue.
The discussion was triggered last month after council learned a local man is setting out leg traps in his yard to capture squirrels eating tomatoes in his garden. One of the main concerns is that the man’s home on South Chillicothe Street is within close proximity to Plain City Elementary School and a child or domestic animal could be hurt, officials said.
A leg trap is a jawed spring-operated trap designed to capture an animal by the foot or leg.
Resident Carol Gail attended Monday’s meeting and said she supported the village passing a law to ban leg traps. Furthermore, if a resident needs to use a box trap, they should get a permit from the village and state their intentions, she said.
“That way you know what he’s doing it for, and it’s not just for sport and to be mean,” she said. “But those leg traps, I can’t see a need for them in this town.”
Resident John Rucker expressed his opposition to an ordinance requiring all nuisance management to be performed by a professional, as previously discussed by council. While feral cats are not as big of an issue as they once were, raccoon and skunks continue to roam the village, he said.
“We have to be able to do something to control it,” said Rucker. He said there are several places nearby that “are harboring vermin,” including one dilapidated house on Gay Street that was once condemned.
Councilman Nick Kennedy expressed support for an ordinance. He said nuisance animals would only be “the occasional thing” if the dilapidated home were properly taken down, in addition to other blight properties.
Kennedy said the man using the traps brought the village a copy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s (ODNR) brochure on trapping laws. Kennedy said he felt the man was insinuating that he was following all laws, but Kennedy argued he is not.
Kennedy referenced laws requiring a trapper to check the trap every 24 hours, not use the trap between sunset and sunrise, and notify residents within 150 feet of the trap.
“There are regulations he wasn’t following that we didn’t think of in this draft, but they make a lot of sense,” Kennedy added, holding the brochure.
Councilman Shawn Kaeser responded that it sounded like ODNR needed to “step in.”
“I can honestly say I in no way support this at all,” Kaeser continued. “It’s probably one person who has not followed the rules. Maybe a stern talking to from the state might help.”
“You can’t solve every problem by passing a law about it,” he added.
But the man was not breaking any laws, according to Matt Teders, ODNR’s wildlife officer assigned to Madison County.
When reached Tuesday by The Press, Teders said regulations pertaining to not setting traps at night only pertain to stationary hunting when using an animal call, and regulations regarding notifying neighbors also do not apply because the man was trapping on property he owns and resides upon.
He added that he would be happy to provide more information at a future meeting.
Regardless of whether the man was acting illegally or legally, the fundamental problem is what residents should do with an animal once it has been caught, said village solicitor Paul-Michael Lafayette. Per Ohio law, residents must either consult a professional, release the animal on the same property (which would not eliminate the nuisance issue) or euthanize the animal.
Typically, euthanization is performed with the use of a firearm, Teders said, but the village prohibits firearm use within village limits.
Teders said squirrels may be relocated, but potential rabies-carrying animals, such as raccoon and skunks, may not be relocated due to risk of disease spread.
One possible solution is a village resident could transport an animal to a property outside village limits and euthanize it with a firearm — if they had that property owner’s permission — bag up the animal, and dispose of it in the trash or place it in a grave.
Council members on Monday agreed to delay any vote on the legislation, instead choosing to revisit the issue at a future meeting.
In other business:
• Council agreed to remove the words, “No weapons in the park,” from a sign outside Pastime Park in order to comply with the state’s carry and concealed weapon laws.
• Councilwoman Leslie Perkins reminded the group that ArtSplosion would take place Friday, Aug. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Uptown Plain City.
• Employees of the village’s public works department expressed their gratitude for the recently purchased equipment. Employees said they felt safer, and brought the new chipper to a nearby parking lot for council members to see.
• Nick Christopher and Todd Skidmore were sworn in for terms on the board of zoning appeals (BZA). Lafayette spoke about the village’s need to get BZA terms on a staggered schedule. He suspected the terms became off schedule during a previous appointment to office.
The next council meeting is Aug. 25.