January 30, 2014 - 3:48 pm
RENO — A Northern Nevada assemblyman faces four misdemeanor counts of illegal trapping amid what he describes as a long-running dispute with state wildlife officials.
Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, is accused of placing traps just off state Route 722 in Churchill County in early November. State law bans traps within 200 feet of a roadway, a measure wildlife officials said protects domestic animals and people who walk along the roads.
“I did not break any law,” Hansen told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I am in complete compliance with the law. They are doing this to stir the pot.”
Hansen contends he was within his rights because he was using snare traps, which are set at about the height of an animal’s head. When an animal walks into the snare and begins struggling to free itself, the snare contracts and chokes the animal to death.
The roadside ban only covers steel traps, which clamp an animal’s leg like a claw, the lawmaker said.
Hansen called the charges part of a “vendetta” against him over his fight for the department’s public records, and his role as a “watchdog” who has testified in the Assembly against the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s budget.
Department law enforcement spokesman Edwin Lyngar denied that Hansen, who was likely trapping bobcats, was singled out.
“Our field officer did his professional job, as he has been trained to do and followed the law as we have enforced it in Nevada for many years,” Lyngar said. “Any allegation that there has been any different treatment is nonsense on its face.”
This is the seventh time Hansen has been cited for violations since 1980, according to wildlife agency spokesman Chris Healy. Previous charges ranged from transporting wildlife without a permit to hunting a protected species.
Hansen is scheduled to appear in New River Justice Court on March 3. Each count against him carries a possible fine of $500, Lyngar said.
Hansen, who owns a plumbing business in Sparks, was first elected the Legislature in 2010.