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  • Acts
  • 2000
  • Chapter 139 AN ACT RELATIVE TO FOOTHOLD TRAPS AND CERTAIN OTHER DEVICES.

Whereas , The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to protect forthwith persons from threats to human health and safety caused by certain animals, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. Section 11 of chapter 131 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

The director shall also provide trapper training courses to certify licensed trappers on the effective use of box, cage and conibear type traps, for furbearing mammals, including beaver or muskrat. Such training courses shall be held at least twice each calendar year.

SECTION 2. Said chapter 131 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 19A the following section:-

Section 19B. Any person authorized under section 4 to take and possess mammals may transport them within the commonwealth for the purpose of euthanasia.

SECTION 3. Section 80A of said chapter 131, as appearing in the 1998 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "health", in line 13, the following words:- or municipal boards of health.

SECTION 4. The second paragraph of said section 80A of said chapter 131 as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following two sentences:- 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.

SECTION 5. Said section 80A of said chapter 131, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following seven paragraphs:-

An applicant or his duly authorized agent may apply to the municipal board of health for an emergency permit to immediately alleviate a threat to human health and safety, as defined in the previous paragraph. If the municipal board of health determines that such a threat exists, it shall immediately issue said emergency permit to alleviate the existing threat to human health and safety, for a period not exceeding ten days. If denied, the applicant or his duly authorized agent may appeal said emergency permit application to the state department of public health or director. If the state department of public health or director determines that such a threat exists, it shall immediately issue said emergency permit to alleviate the existing threat to human health and safety, for a period not exceeding ten days.

The aforementioned emergency permit authorizes the applicant or his duly authorized agent to immediately remedy the threat to human health and safety by one or more of the following options: (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 nonlethal management or water-flow devices, subject to determinations and conditions of municipal conservation commissions under section 40.

If said threat to human health and safety has not been alleviated within said ten days, the applicant or his duly authorized agent in conjunction with the municipal board of health, shall apply to the director for an extension permit to continue the use of alleviation techniques, specified in this section, for a period not exceeding 30 days. If the director determines that such a threat to human health or safety exists, as defined in this section, the director shall immediately issue an extension permit.

If the director determines that said extension permit should be continued for 30 days, the director shall within 30 days of such decision develop, with the assistance of the applicant or his duly authorized agent, municipal board of health and municipal conservation commission, a plan to abate the beaver or muskrat problem using alternative, nonlethal management techniques in combination with water-flow devices, where possible, subject to the determinations and conditions of municipal conservation commissions under section 40, and if necessary, box and cage type-traps in order to provide a long-term solution. The director shall take reasonable steps to implement the plan within this 30-day period.

Compliance with the provisions of any or all of the previous four paragraphs shall not preclude the applicant or his duly authorized agent from applying to the municipal board of health for an additional emergency permit, provided the applicant (a) states in writing that there exists on the property an animal problem which poses a threat to human health and safety, as defined in this section, which cannot reasonably be abated by the use of alternative, nonlethal management techniques or box or cage traps, and that the applicant has attempted to abate the animal problem using alternative, nonlethal management techniques or box or cage traps, or (b) is awaiting the director's approval for an extension permit.

An applicant or his duly authorized agent under clause (b) shall be eligible for only two additional emergency permits, the first of which shall entitle the applicant or his duly authorized agent the use of all or any of the alleviation techniques previously allowed under the initial emergency permit. Said first additional emergency permit shall expire in ten days. If the director still has not acted within this ten day period, the applicant or his duly authorized agent shall be eligible for a second additional emergency permit. Said second additional emergency permit shall entitle the applicant or his duly authorized agent the use of all alleviation techniques previously allowed in this section, except for the use of conibear traps. The second additional emergency permit shall expire on the rendering of a decision by the director regarding the extension permit.

The division shall provide a report annually to the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture on the creation, implementation and efficiency of such animal problem plans.

SECTION 6. The director of fisheries and wildlife shall adopt emergency regulations to carry out the purposes of this act as soon as possible and shall adopt final regulations within three months after the effective date of this act. All final rules and regulations promulgated under this act shall be filed with the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture 60 days before their effective date. Within one year after the effective date of this act and annually thereafter, the division shall conduct a study of the results and financial requirements of this act and file the results of such study with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture.

Approved July 21, 2000.