SECTION 1. Chapter 131 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out section 80A and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 80A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a person shall not use, set, place, maintain, manufacture or possess any trap for the purpose of capturing furbearing mammals, except for common type mouse and rat traps, nets, and box or cage type traps, as otherwise permitted by law. A box or cage type trap is one that confines the whole animal without grasping any part of the animal, including Hancock or Bailey’s type live trap for beavers. Other than nets and common type mouse or rat traps, traps designed to capture and hold a furbearing mammal by gripping the mammal’s body, or body part are prohibited, including steel jaw leghold traps, padded leghold traps, and snares.
The above provision shall not apply to the use of prohibited devices by federal and state departments of health, the division or municipal boards of health for the purpose of protection from threats to human health and safety. A threat to human health and safety may include, but shall not be limited to:
(a) beaver or muskrat occupancy of a public water supply;
(b) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding of drinking water wells, well fields or water pumping stations;
(c) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding of sewage beds, septic systems or sewage pumping stations;
(d) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding of a public or private way, driveway, railway or airport runway or taxi-way;
(e) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding of electrical or gas generation plants or transmission or distribution structures or facilities, telephone or other communications facilities or other public utilities;
(f) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding affecting the public use of hospitals, emergency clinics, nursing homes, homes for the elderly or fire stations;
(g) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding affecting hazardous waste sites or facilities, incineration or resource recovery plants or other structures or facilities whereby flooding may result in the release or escape of hazardous or noxious materials or substances;
(h) the gnawing, chewing, entering, or damage to electrical or gas generation, transmission or distribution equipment, cables, alarm systems or facilities by any beaver or muskrat;
(i) beaver or muskrat-caused flooding or structural instability on property owned by the applicant if such animal problem poses an imminent threat of substantial property damage or income loss, which shall be limited to: (1) flooding of residential, commercial, industrial or commercial buildings or facilities; (2) flooding of or access to commercial agricultural lands which prevents normal agricultural practices from being conducted on such lands; (3) reduction in the production of an agricultural crop caused by flooding or compromised structural stability of commercial agricultural lands; (4) flooding of residential lands in which the municipal board of health, its chair or agent or the state or federal department of health has determined a threat to human health and safety exists. The department of environmental protection shall make any determination of a threat to a public water supply.
An applicant or his duly authorized agent may apply to the division for alleviation of a threat to human health and safety by a beaver and muskrat control officer.
The division shall license beaver and muskrat control officers for the purpose of alleviating threats to human health and safety. This licensure process shall include, at a minimum, training in the assessment, identification and alleviation of threats to public health and safety, as defined in the third paragraph. The division shall establish the training and licensure process for beaver and muskrat control officers. Said officers shall be authorized to identify and alleviate threats to human health and safety, using 1 or more of the following options, provided that a beaver and muskrat control officer shall use the most humane option available in accordance with best practices: (a) the use of conibear or box or cage-type traps, subject to the regulations promulgated by the division; (b) the breaching of dams, dikes, bogs or berms, so-called, subject to determinations and conditions of municipal conservation commissions under section 40; and (c) employing any non-lethal management or water-flow devices, subject to determinations and conditions of municipal conservation commissions under section 40.
Prior to conducting any activity to alleviate a threat to human health and safety a beaver and muskrat control officer shall: (a) provide written notification to the local board of health, no less than 24 hours prior to employing any technique unless a shorter period is allowed by the board of health, identifying the threat to human health and safety, the location and specific technique to be employed; (b) obtain all required determinations and conditions from local conservation commissions under section 40 for breaching dams, dikes, bogs or berms, so-called, and the employment of non-lethal management or water flow devices; (c) obtain written approval for the alleviation activity from the department of environmental protection, if the threat is to a public water supply; and (d) obtain written permission from the owner or leasee of the property on which the alleviation will occur.
The division shall report to the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture annually, on or before March 1, on the activity of beaver and muskrat control officers in each city and town.
The division shall, in conjunction with the department of public health, issue regulations establishing, at a minimum: (a) the process by which individuals may apply for alleviation of a threat to human health and safety; (b) training and licensure requirements for beaver and muskrat control officers; and (c) a standard process by which beaver and muskrat control officers may alleviate threats to human health and safety.
Whoever violates any provisions of this section, or any rule or regulation made under the authority thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment for each trap possessed, used, set, placed, maintained or manufactured. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense. A person found guilty of, or convicted of, or assessed in any manner after a plea of nolo contendere, or penalized for, a second violation of this section shall surrender to an officer authorized to enforce this chapter any trapping license and problem animal control permit issued to such person and shall be barred forever from: (a) obtaining a trapping license; obtaining a problem animal control permit; or (c) being licensed as a beaver and muskrat control officer.
SECTION 2. The division of fisheries and wildlife shall, in conjunction with the department of public health, issue regulations pursuant to section 80A of chapter 131 of the General Laws no later than 6 months after the effective date of this act.
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