INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - In the first trial of its kind in Nevada history, a mother and her daughter admitted tampering with a bear trap -- but said they did it because the placement of the trap was illegal.
Surveillance video taken on Oct. 9 shows Cheryl Morrison, 63, and Season Morrison, 35, tripping the door of a trailer-mounted culvert trap placed on the driveway of a home by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Both women testified Wednesday they had seen a Facebook post about the trap that claimed it was closer to a public road than Nevada law allows.
State law prohibits steel traps from being placed within 200 feet of a public road. However, two game wardens testified the term "steel trap" is generally interpreted to mean a leg-hold trap that snaps shut when an animal steps on the trigger. They added the culvert traps used by the state of Nevada are made out of aluminum.
Although the Morrisons said they felt justified in their actions, Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Amos Stege got Season Morrison to admit she wouldn't have sprung the trap if she had known she was being recorded on video.
The use of traps to relocate, or in extreme cases, euthanize bears has been highly contentious in the Tahoe basin.
Carolyn Stark of the Bear League said human encounters with bears could largely be eliminated if people would be more careful with food and trash storage.
Stark said the bear targeted by the trap set on Fairview Boulevard last October was drawn to the property by construction workers who had left their lunches exposed.
The misdemeanor trial without a jury began at 11 a.m. in the Incline Village Justice Court and lasted well into the evening.
Before adjourning, Judge Alan Tiras asked both attorneys to submit briefs on the steel trap issue by May 8, after which he would issue his verdict.
The women face fines of up to $1,500 and six months in jail; however, the prosecutor said he would not seek jail time.
Two women are on trial for tampering with a bear trap in Lake Tahoe. (Wednesday, April 23, 2014)