An anti-trapping piece written for the Huffington Post is rife with ignorance and deceit. Here we dismantle it piece by piece and set the record straight.
Recently an anti-trapping piece was written for the Huffington Post decrying trapping, and making several bombastic claims as to its cruelty and outdatedness. Of course those of us who travel and work in the outdoors and with wildlife understand the truth of the matter, but let us debunk some of these claims nonetheless.
The piece was written by Adam M. Roberts, the CEO of Born Free USA, a PETA-like group, and who describes himself as an alleged "international expert on animal welfare and wildlife conservation." Mr. Roberts' expertise is certainly called into question with this outlandish article.
Roberts opens his screed with,
"What kind of person purposely destroys a beaver dam and sets a "wall of death" of Conibear traps, knowing that the unsuspecting beavers will return to repair their handiwork--only to be possibly smashed across their abdomens and drowned?
"What kind of person watches a tethered and helpless coyote writhe in pain and distress, unable to move because of the intensely unforgiving steel jaws clamped to her paw, kicks her in the side, and then finally shoots her in the chest so that her lungs fill with blood, and she dies a miserable, suffocating death?"
Well, no trapper that I'm aware of does any of those things. It would be hard to find a trapper who destroys a beaver dam or watches a coyote writhe in pain. Trappers are by and large some of the most ethical and caring people you will ever meet concerning the animals they harvest. No ethical trapper kicks a coyote in the side or shoots it in the chest so that it dies a slow and painful death.
When a coyote is dispatched with a firearm it is generally shot in the head. Quick, clean and humane. The myth that animals trapped die an agonizing and miserable death is just that: an anti-trapping myth. Roberts uses language here that is far more dramatic than the reality.
Foothold traps do not cause pain. They hold an animal. That is all. Conibear traps kill quickly and humanely.
"Our investigator hit the traplines in New York and Iowa, and discovered beaver dams destroyed; traps and bait set illegally; traps set close to public bridges, roads, and trails; horrific drown poles deployed; trapping in protected areas; prolonged suffering; and brutal death."
If these anti-trapping claims were proven to be true, then they are illegal and worthy of condemnation and legal action. No honest trapper approves of such behavior or practices. The overwhelming majority of trappers are indeed honest and ethical. I find it curious that Born Free found no examples of ethical or legal trapping methods, only the bad examples. This calls into question the veracity of their claims.
Their videos indicate that they partnered with two trappers to get their footage. And while the beaver trapping video showed nothing that was illegal or unethical, only insinuations of unethical behavior, the coyote video did show a person (the trapper or the investigator?) kicking a trapped coyote.
That was disturbing, and it's a shame that one bad trapper (if indeed it was the trapper) is used as an example for the thousands of good trappers who work the woods and waterways. This kind of behavior is abhorrent to all good trappers.
Roberts declares that "U.S. Senator Cory Booker had it exactly right when he said that these 'traps operate by slamming shut with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device. Terrified animals break legs, chew off limbs, dislocate shoulders, and tear muscles as they try to break free of these traps.'"
No, Senator Booker had it wrong. No bones are crushed during the activation of a trap. In fact, steel jaw traps are very humane and cause virtually no pain, as shown by this demonstration of a fellow sticking his hand in a trap:
Roberts is partially right though, in his claim that many trappers do not trap for reasons of gainful employment. Trapping is hard work, and there certainly are easier ways to make a buck. Trappers trap because the love the wild, and they love pitting their skill against the superior instincts of a wild animal.
Trapping is an honorable and noble pursuit, untainted by modernity and technology, where a man or woman can commune with nature and its wild inhabitants, and get an end product that is both natural and supreme in its luxurious ability to fend off the cold. No man-made product can come close.
And when pursued in an ethical and legal manner - which is precisely how most trappers pursue their trade - it is a wildlife management tool without compare. I can guarantee you that trappers know more about wildlife, and have a deeper respect and love, borne of intimate familiarity, for the animals they harvest than does any anti-trapper.
All of us outdoorsmen - hunters and anglers - must support trapping and defend it whenever the anti's rear their deceitful heads.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.