by Kevin Brown
Response to Fred Trevey’s article “IDFG Committed to Reducing Accidental Trapping of Pets”:
As I was watching the F&G video of how to release my dog from a variety of traps and snares, I was in awe of the absurdity of such a thought. Do I really want to be carrying my cable cutters with me as I try to remember all the steps that I need to know should my dog only have minutes to live while struggling in a trap? Have I lost my rights to quality time and worry free relaxation knowing that this trauma could happen at any time when I recreate in the woods?
Why do we, the public, have to be the ones to adapt to this problem allowing those few to hold us hostage on our own public lands? There are about 2000 trapping licenses issued in Idaho with a population of about one and a half million people in this state…and a very large percentage of them recreate with dogs. It occurred to me that every angle has been tried to band aid these problems except for correcting the obvious one…trapping. Why does the F&G treat this like “sacred ground?” Reevaluating comprehensive trapping laws have never been on the table in Idaho.
The argument that trapping has a long romantic heritage is an overstated, flowery depiction of the sport itself. In the 1800s, there were fewer trappers and most of the traps were set under water to harvest beaver, (a species that almost became extinct). This can not be compared to today’s problems with the introduction of thousands of snares and the obvious clash between Idaho residents who recreate with dogs and own cats. We have far more people now and the situation has drastically changed from the days of responsible trappers.
Mr. Trevey talks about “a few incidents” where domestic dogs have recently been killed. He states that these cases are rare. (Has he lost one of HIS dogs recently to a trap?) Is he not aware of the F&G’s own statistics stating that there were at least 800 non-targeted deaths (inclusive of dogs and wildlife) reported from just two years alone in 2012…and those were ONLY THE ONES REPORTED. How many trappers walk away every day not reporting untargeted kills? No one is the wiser.
TRAPS and SNARES KILL and MAIM non-targeted wildlife and domestic dogs by the hundreds and there is no oversight from the F&G. You can not sugar coat these facts.
I have recreated with hounds in the woods all of my life. At one time, I was a trapper myself. The following are the reasons why I didn’t have the stomach for it anymore:
• Bobcats mostly missing toes, entire legs gone and whole paws missing because they chewed them off.
• Three legged bears trying to survive in the wild.
• Scavenger birds such as hawks, magpies, ravens, crows and jays, etc. that are lured to the trappers bait in leg hold traps….never escape without broken or damaged legs to where they can no longer even land in a tree.
• Moose, deer and elk who still have a snare attached to a bloated hoof that is cutting off the blood.
• Many deer snared by the nose, neck or antlers….suffering from no food or water till coyotes either eat them alive or they die a slow death.
• Three legged wolves and coyotes fighting to manage survival.
• Rabbits, coyotes, birds, deer and squirrels, etc. left dead in un-pulled traps because the trapper never returned. (Probably forgot where they were.)
• ….and ultimately, the death of four of my prized hunting dogs by snares and leg hold traps. (Couldn’t use the video instruction in those situations).
If you think this sport is not “Disgusting, Barbaric and Cruel”, (you had issue with someone using these words in another paper)…then I would like to know exactly what you think it is, Mr. Trevey. The only reason this state received 70% of the electorate vote enshrining the right to trap…was because they cleverly lumped it together with the hunting and fishing bill. By itself, it would never have made the grade. By putting it in the state constitution, they removed the power of the people to petition against it…but nothing is ever set in stone.
Idaho is fast becoming a state of ethics. As Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” We are beginning to watch trapping fade into the rear view mirror as we take more notice of animal suffering and the desire to meet our own needs to have the right to recreate freely without worry. I no longer harvest any predators due to the immense decline of their populations. I am afraid to even enjoy just chasing them for fear of losing more of my dogs…so what I love doing most is pretty much over with.
The F&G needs to start balancing the playing field so that all of us can use and enjoy our public lands and stop giving preference only to trappers. Using LIVE TRAPS would solve a multitude of problems. It would open up areas for the trapper that normally would not be offered up on private land. It would make pet owners happy. Untargeted wildlife could repopulate to healthier numbers and the trapper could actually take what he has intended to target. These are the conversations the F&G should be having…not the “how to release your dog from a trap” classes or online videos.
Fact Checking Wolf Myths
by Kevin Brown
My friends never pass up a chance to indulge me in the most fear based wolf stories I have ever heard. Most of these stories get more prolific every time they are told to where the details start to take on a life of their own. I’m sure you’ve heard the following:
We have the hunter who came upon a meadow witnessing a pack of wolves that had just brought down five elk at one time. They took a bite out of each elk then left them to rot. “This is only because the wolf kills indiscriminately for sport.” This story grew from 5 elk to a whopping 25 elk killed in the meadow before it stopped smoldering. Do wolves really attack their prey just for the fun of it? Here are the facts:
When they kill more than they can eat in one sitting, the pack will keep coming back for seconds. Wolves achieve a very low yield on hunting expeditions. Somewhere between 4 percent and 8 percent of their attacks are successful. They often bury their leftovers and hide them for later meals. An elk, moose or deer can mortally wound its attackers with one swift kick, so wolves often tend to focus more on the young, the sick or elderly……natures unique way of culling to keep only the fittest alive. Wolves keep the herds moving around which helps the eco system stay balanced.
“I can’t go for a walk without carrying a pistol for fear of being attacked by a wolf. I know one was stalking me the other day.” Has there been any documentation of a human being killed by a wolf in the last 100 years in North America?
There have not been any human deaths documented by wolves in the lower 48 states in the last 120 years. Wild wolves are generally timid around humans. Wolves usually try to avoid contact with people, to the point of even abandoning their kills when an approaching human is detected. Wolves are among the least threatening for their size and capabilities of all our predators.
“Wolves have killed all the elk and I want elk meat! I see carcasses everywhere!”
Wolves kill elk… but that is what wolves do …so do mountain lions, bears and man, but there is enough for everyone. Sniper hunters many times end up hiking 800 yards to bag a wounded elk. Because of this time factor, they often don’t find him because he has run off to die …a common tale with elk and deer. The carcass is then found later after most everything has eaten on it…but it is not always the wolf that has brought him down.
Because of the loss of habitat, Elk know more about hunters than hunters know about elk! THERE IS AN ABUNDANCE OF ELK. I can’t go hunting anywhere with my dogs without constantly finding elk sign. Elk are smart animals and have learned to avoid hunters. Because of the six month seasons using high-powered rifles, muzzle loaders and bows, these animals are harassed to the point where all they do is hide.
So what we have now is an ever shrinking habitat, smart elk that no longer act like dumb elk and hunters that have no idea how to hunt smart elk. Predators are here to keep the herds healthy by keeping them alert and moving……enter the mountain lion, bear and yes …the wolf. As usual, it is man that tends to shoot himself in the foot when he wonders where all the elk are while still blaming the wolf for his own short comings. Elk could quite possibly be the only animal that is not truly threatened in the state of Idaho.
Recently, I saw an elk hobbling away from me with a snare wrapped around one foot, the foot bloated from lack of blood. Break away snares do break away, only to stay on the animal for a life of misery or death. Trapping is another elk killer. The few elk that wolves take are a small fraction of all the other ways an elk can meet his demise. The biggest piece of the elk depletion pie (in order) is attributed to hunters, logging, poisoning vegetation and then predators…but there are still plenty of elk as of now. This could change with the mismanagement of our wildlife.
“My cat and dog are missing and I saw wolf tracks everywhere.” Is this possible?
Wolves have been known to kill dogs and maybe cats. This is rare and usually is because their own habitat has been encroached on by new developement. Many times tracks that have melted out in the snow look bigger and have been mistaken for wolf tracts. Great horned owls are skilled cat killers but coyotes are the most likely culprits in these scenarios. Unlike the wolf, they are not afraid to slink around man’s domain and take what is available. They adapt well and will easily prey on a small dog or cat. It is usually the wolf that kills the coyote but he also takes the rap for him when it comes to the demise of small pets.
The wolf is not the ravenous, vicious, stalking monster we have depicted him to be throughout the years …aka …“Little Red Riding Hood Syndrome”. There is a purpose for the wolf as a predator. That is why we re-introduced them. We should not be so quick to buy into the rumors that some people hold on to with a death grip …but wisely realize the ways in which we can live in harmony with this magnificent creature. He has become victim to the most misunderstood witch hunt of our time.
Bold Visions Conservation