Pet dies after getting caught in
a trap at Versailles State Park

Wanda English Burnett

A Holton woman never dreamed that a walk in the park would lead to the death of her dog, Copper.

Melodie Liddle said she was walking her two dogs on leashes at the Versailles State Park last Friday, December 16 around 2 p.m. when the tragic event occurred.

Liddle told The Versailles Republican both her dogs were on leashes. She had been walking for a while and the dogs were hot. She decided to let them get a drink of water from a drainage pipe area. She said she had ahold of the leashes the whole time the dogs were getting their drinks.

“I heard this terrible noise,” she said, and realized Copper was in some kind of serious trouble. He was caught in a trap. She said the trap clamped down on his rib cage area and finally as the little dog struggled and she tried to free him, he died in her arms.

“The trap got Copper around the neck and I struggled to release him, but I was not strong enough. Copper suffocated in minutes,” Liddle noted.

Horrified this could happen in the State Park, Liddle said she contacted park personnel, who she described as having little concern for her loss. She said they were concerned about whether the dogs were on a leash and whether or not they were a certain amount of feet from the roadway. “I did have them on leashes,” she emphasized.

Liddle said park personnel told her that it was perfectly legal to set traps within the park and that they were aware of the traps. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. She would later find out the trap was a 220 pound pressure Conibear style trap.

When the newspaper contacted the park office at Versailles, there was no one who would talk about the incident. They instead referred the media to a spokesperson in Indianapolis.

Phil Bloom, public relations spokesperson for the State Park told The Versailles Republican he was aware of the situation. He said it is in fact legal to set traps in the park if the proper permits are obtained. In this case, he assured the public that the proper paperwork had been done to issue a permit to the licensed trapper, who then set the trap that met specifications.

He said the traps are typically set in an area that has little or no human activity and are set during the months of December and January to trap raccoons. Bloom said there have been numerous complaints from campers about the over abundance of raccoons and trapping them has been an effective way to take care of the problem. He further noted that this incident is the only negative feedback he was aware of from the trapping program, which began in 2005. He further noted that more than 300 raccoons have been trapped and killed with this method.

Bloom said the trap that killed Copper was set 27 feet from the roadway and people are advised to stay on or near designated trails. Liddle had the area where her pet died measured and says it was 22 feet from the roadway.

Bloom said this was a tragic accident. He told The Versailles Republican he had talked with Liddle and a suggestion she made will be taken into consideration. That suggestion was to clearly mark where the traps are placed to prevent anyone from having this happen again.

The Liddle family say they are dealing with their loss and are outraged at this blatant disregard for public safety and the lack of concern demonstrated by park personnel. “Even if this practice is legal, there should be signs or markers. People should be warned. That could’ve been a child,” Liddle concluded.