Richmond County is working to rewrite the regulations on snare traps. And if Sheriff Stephan Smith has his way, they’ll be banned.

Recently, two dogs strangled to death after getting caught in snare traps in the Emmerton area, Smith told the Board of Supervisors at this month’s meeting. Not only is it “disturbing to me, but the residents who called me about this are furious,” he added. 

“No animal wild or domestic should be strangled to death by a snare trap. That’s my personal feeling. But I know there are a lot of people that live in this county that feel the same way,” he told the board.

Smith also told the supervisors there’s reportedly a petition circulating to urge them to ban snare traps in Richmond County. “I will be supporting it,” he said.

In addition to the two recent strangulations, Smith said a few years ago a dog was caught but was freed by the owner. Although Smith isn’t sure how widespread the use of snare traps is, he doesn’t think they belong in Richmond County at all. 

The area is not rural enough. “The county is too residential” with too many citizens and animals moving around.

Since that December 10 meeting, Smith has been working with county supervisors, Delegate Margaret Ransone and Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries trying to bring change.

However, after working with the county attorney to get clarity on whether the Code of Virginia gives localities the ability to make their own regulations, “it was determined that the county doesn’t have the authority to regulate snare traps,” said county administrator Morgan Quicke.

“Ultimately at this time, in order for Richmond County to have the ability to regulate these traps, it would take action at the Virginia General Assembly level,” he added.

But that doesn’t mean the push for change is going away. 

“I believe that the Richmond County Board of Supervisors is certainly interested in finding avenues to regulate these traps at the local level,” Quicke said, adding “And I can tell you that the county and sheriff are actively working with our local legislators and DGIF to try and give localities the ability to have more say in certain types of traps,” added Quicke.