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Word ‘nuisance’ added to proposed sport trapping law on Grand Island

The word “nuisance” was added to a proposed sport trapping law in the Town of Grand Island that drew praise and skepticism Monday evening during a second public hearing on the subject.

The new word was added last week to the proposed law, originally drafted to allow trapping with a permit on town-owned land, to make trapping on town land permissible only in nuisance situations.

According to Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray, “nuisance” was added because he repeatedly heard the word as the reason that people trapped on the Island.

“It was always the bottom-line justification,” he said after the Town Board meeting.

Several speakers thanked the board for adding the word to the law, including David A. Reilly and Nicole R. Gerber, the Whitehaven Road residents who originally raised the issue in October.

“With the inclusion of the term ‘nuisance’ to the idea of permitting for trapping, I would support this idea,” Reilly said. “It’s a major improvement over what we’ve been talking about at previous public hearings.”

Bryce D. Shipman, whose son Josh is at the center of the trapping controversy in the town, questioned how the board would determine that a situation met the criteria as a “nuisance.”

“A trapper comes to the board, you’re making the decision,” he said, “how do you, as a board, know it’s a nuisance situation?”

“That’s a good question,” McMurray answered. “We have to look at the evidence at hand.”

Shipman asked what a trapper would have to bring before the board in order to get a trapping permit.

“I don’t think you’ll ever give that permit out,” he said, adding that the town has not set any guidelines on how a permit would be issued.

McMurray said the permit would be issued if there were a danger to residents or their property.

“The first step is to lay out the principle, and the principle is that when there is a nuisance, we will consider issuing a trapping permit,” he said.

When the trapping issue was first raised, McMurray said, his inclination was to do nothing.

“It was a non-issue,” he said. “No one is trapping on the island. But it became an issue.”

Josh Shipman, the Grand Island teenager whose traps near Reilly and Gerber’s property caused the initial backlash, also spoke during the hearing, becoming emotional while speaking.

“I do everything legal,” he said.

After the meeting, Reilly said he and Gerber would support the proposed law, as long as the board left it the way it is currently written.

Sport trapping is allowed on private land by New York State law.

The board will vote on the measure in May, McMurray said.