by Stephen Capra
How is it as a society that in this day and time, understanding as we do the connection between a healthy, vibrant community of wildlife and true biodiversity, that we allow something as unfathomable as trapping? The cruel and twisted nature of this form of legal torture has changed little since its advent, one that defined the early days of our nation.
What remains the true insanity is that as our nation has evolved and positions have matured on race, women and so many other issues of inequality, but our positions on animals and wildlife have evolved at a far slower pace. So that today in New Mexico, being a bobcat is more than a death sentence, it is almost a guarantee that your life will be cut short in a barbarous manner, so that you can be sold for your fur.
We all know the term, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It rings so true on the issue of trapping. We all know the reality of this cruel and sickening action, yet despite all our knowledge and emotions, the Game and Fish Department and the ranching community remain steadfast in their support of the practice. Many sportsmen also remain solid in their support; even though they acknowledge that it is a very cruel fate for any animal.
Some liken it to a tradition. They speak of their connection to nature as though we should simply understand that allowing an animal to wither in pain for hours, days or weeks is somehow something we want to condone or even pass on to a new generation. We seem to allow a giant loophole in the regulations of public lands that forbids killing for profit. Trappers it seems can use the lands, basically put them off-limits for our enjoyment, kill and torture animals and then sell their pelts for profit.
At the last Game and Fish meeting the green light was given to trapping cougars. We know all the wildlife that is impacted by traps, the bycatch of these animals remains tremendous, from eagles to our pets; yet rather than diminish the practice, our commission wants to ramp it up!
As we ponder as a nation our next steps on issues such as climate change and face the stiff and relentless pressure of republican politicians who refuse to even admit its legitimacy, it’s worth noting that as a nation, we remain unable to put the issue of trapping behind us. We continue to fight over whether it should be banned; we fight over the idea that it is a tradition or what animals should be allowed to suffer. Some even argue that the animals do not suffer. This all speaks to the ignorance of man, to the real selfish nature of those that see nature as a place not to revere, but as a place for profit.
That basic concept seems ingrained in our Manifest Destiny mindsets and grinding it out is the challenge we face as we come in contact with our own mortality as a species. Ending trapping is about more than ending suffering. It is about compassion, changing our view of animals from foe to friend. It is about changing ourselves from those who conquer to those willing to share the bounty we have been blessed with. Seeing the forest not for the trees, but rather as a living organism that gives life to wolves, bears, cougars and species as small as ants, a place where man is a visitor, not the owner.
There is a freedom in letting go. If we can begin to see ourselves not as the owner, but as yet another renter of this life giving force, we may begin to better understand the value of the commons. In this shared commons, we are a part of a much larger and more varied unit. Here many species share a space and regulate that space as they have for millions of years. They have done so without our input with a grace and balance that man remains a long way from perfecting.
Bold Visions Conservation