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HB 736 Reported Out


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The Committee for Responsible Wildlife Management supported an extremely important House Bill sponsored and submitted by Representatives Anne M. Gobi and George N. Peterson titled "Safeguarding our Natural Resources".  There were seven additional co-sponsors on this bill, which include: Senator Stephen Brewer, Representative Denis E. Guyer (NR. & Ag Committee House vice chair), Representative Todd Smola, Representative Stephen Kulik,  Senator Benjamin Downing, Representative Robert Rice and Representative Cleon H. Turner.

Click [HERE] for Printable Version of original bill description

HB 736 Reported out of Committee Favorably and became HB 4172  [AMENDMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE] It is now HB 4943, has been amended by the governor (8/20/2010) and is now back in the legislature (8/26/2010).  CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS to pass this bill.  This bill provides important documentation of beaver permits issued and animals taken under those permits.

Below is a brief description of what the original bill WOULD HAVE DONE if enacted:

Original Massachusetts HOUSE BILL #736


186th General Court of Massachusetts (2009 – 2010)

 House Bill # 736 (click to see actual bill)

 General Description

The 2009 -'10 House Bill #736 sponsored by Representatives Anne Gobi and George N. Peterson, titled “Safeguarding our Natural Resources” protects and conserves our natural environment and wildlife, while at the same time recognizes our furbearers as a valuable and sustainable resource.  This bill would create and maintain healthy furbearer populations through a proactive, regulated harvest using the most effective, internationally tested and best researched tools available.  Over time, the implementation of this law will significantly reduce human-animal conflicts and the extensive damage that we are experiencing with beavers today across the entire state.   When enacted, this bill will allow the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) to regulate and allow for use during the established furbearer harvest seasons certain live restraint and “quick kill’ devices that adhere to internationally developed ”Best Management Practices (BMPs).  These BMPs have been developed through a scientific process involving years of field and laboratory testing under the auspices of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).

 A High Degree of Restriction

The wording in this bill significantly addresses animal welfare.  A limit to the size of the live restraint "foothold" style devices that would be permitted is restricted to a maximum of 5 3/8" in diameter on land, comparable to the size of a compact disk or CD.  In addition, the restraint surface area material must not be steel.  Typically, an acceptable material consists of rubber or a similar compound. The bill also allows for ‘quick-kill’ underwater devices and a newer land use device called the “foot encapsulation restraint” that shields the entire foot inside a plastic or metal shell.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the limits placed on the approved devices themselves, requirements have been incorporated into the law to further address animal welfare and other concerns. For example, a shock absorbing spring must be attached between the device itself and the anchor point which reduces the chance of injury to the captured animal. The distance between the device and the fixed anchor point must not exceed 2 feet, leaving little distance for the animal to travel.  Also, a “pan tension device” must be used on foothold restraints set on land, to reduce the potential of capturing smaller and lighter, non-target animals.

Significantly Reduces Need for Municipal Permitting Approval Process

After this bill passes, local Board of Health (BOH) permits will not be required to trap beavers or other furbearers using the approved devices during the regulated season.  Outside of MDFW designated seasons, local permits will need to be obtained.  Citizens who have attended and passed the AFWA & MDFW approved trapper education course and have obtained a Massachusetts trappers’ license can use these approved devices.  Licensed trappers must still adhere to and abide by all regulations defined and enforced by the DFW.  The beaver season goes from Nov 1 to April 15th.  Other furbearer harvest seasons are much shorter, e.g.: Coyote & Fox Nov 1 – 30; Fisher Nov 1 - 22nd; as well as Raccoon, Muskrat, Opossum & Skunk Nov 1 - Feb 27/28.

Responsible Management

This bill allows responsible public participation in the proactive, highly regulated management of furbearers in Massachusetts.  It provides for the use of the most well-researched and tested tools available that address (a) animal welfare, (b) efficiency, (c) selectivity, (d) safety to people and (e) their practical application in the field.


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Last modified: August 17, 2010