The Cruelty of Fur Trapping
Approximately 10 million animals are trapped and killed worldwide each year for fur. Animals caught in traps suffer immensely while waiting for the trapper to come and kill them. In the U.S., trappers are licensed by state agencies, just as hunters are. Beavers, raccoons, opossums, muskrats, skunks, and foxes are among the animals targeted by trappers.
Many states require the traps to be tagged with the trapper’s identifying information and require trappers to check their traps once a day, but even a short period of time with a limb caught in a leg hold trap is excruciating. Animals will chew off their own limbs to escape the traps. Several U.S. states and many countries have banned the steel-jawed leg hold trap, which is notorious for its cruelty. Trappers now get around this ban by using other types of traps, including snare traps, conibear traps or leg hold traps with a thin layer of padding added. Once the trapper finds the captured animal, if the animal is still alive, the trapper will usually club or stomp the animal to death. Shooting is not as popular because the trapper would risk damaging the pelt.
Another problem with any kind of trap is the lack of discrimination. For every intended victim of the traps, there are 2 to 10 unintended victims: birds, porcupines, deer, cats, dogs and other animals are caught, maimed and killed in traps. Even animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are caught and killed. In the industry, these unintended victims are referred to as “trash” animals. There have also been cases where children were caught in these traps.
animal killing contests
In recent years we've seen a new phenomenon taking hold on our public lands, spread by companies and individuals that profit from wildlife slaughter, and sanctioned by Game and Fish Departments.
It’s Killing Contests; they are a new form of thrill being sought by fools, and an ignorant minority of our population. Cash and prizes are awarded to those who kill the most coyotes or prairie dogs and in Canada, even wolves.
It is not a sport, it’s a killing field as animals are called in and killed, or shot at long distances with scoped, high-powered rifles.
Making matters worse, these so-called 'sportsmen' are encouraged to bring their kids and learn about this form of wanton killing. In New Mexico, our Game and Fish Director Jim Lane fully supports Killing Contests, and even wants kids to participate and learn to torture animals by learning animal trapping...to beat trapped animals to death with clubs.
This is an outrage and simply writing letters is not enough. Once again we see this as an issue which requires the voices of the majority, with passion and determination. It also requires serious organizing in the urban parts of most states, as these “Contests” are going on across the country.
It all ties back to our effort to Reform Game and Fish Departments, as the ultimate solution. However it also involves pressuring federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land management and the Forest Service to name a few that must not allow any such activities on federal lands.
Our attempt to end Killing Contests were our very first action as an organization, and will continue to work on this issue until it is outlawed nationally.
These are the steps BVC will take to end the slaughter:
• Organizing the Business community to say no to such contests and making clear they hurt tourism.
• Organizing the religious community to speak out against such wanton killing for fun.
• Working with Students in our SANE Project, to become voices of change and outrage about this continued violence.
• We must educate people and communities far better, about the vital role of predators and their importance to a healthy ecosystem.
• We cannot name or attack the businesses and organizations that promote killing contests, it provides them with exactly the publicity they're looking for.
• We must put more pressure on our cable TV providers to stop airing violent killing shows on their sportsman's networks that encourage these contests, and animal violence in general.
• We must be educated, vocal and passionate and we must force real change.
This is a fight for our true custom and culture, one that respects all wildlife.
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stop animal killing contests now!
Bison-The Magic Gift
We have all heard the stories about a crime being committed; a person is put on trial and then convicted. In some cases the person gets out of jail and is finally freed to recommit the crime. We have created a justice system to find the balance between crime and punishment. We also set up via prisons some form of rehabilitation with the goal being to return a person to society and remain crime free.
You see in my mind science plays the role of rehabilitation in our society. As we learn about wildlife and their behaviors, we adjust our thinking, our way of viewing a so-called crime. As a society we learn and our learning equals how we dole out punishment and efforts to rehab offenders. The slaughter and destruction of wildlife and destroying Native American cultures across the Great Plains and the West was perhaps the darkest chapter in our history. It was a crime for which there was little punishment, except that future generations were left with only drawings, stories and their own imagination to think of passenger pigeons, Merriam Elk, tribal life and the Plains grizzly. One animal managed to suffer like few others could. That animal is the Bison.
It is striking that a segment of society, the ranching community, has not learned the value of wildlife, the importance of protecting genetic diversity, unless it moos. The slaughter of the bison is perhaps the greatest example of human greed and stupidity on record. The killing of the bison was not just done by ranching interests. The railroad played a major and destructive role.
As we look at America today we have witnessed the ranching community passing out endless nonsense about brucellosis, intimidating anyone from the Popplers and their visionary plan; the Buffalo Commons, whose goal was to resettle bison on the Great Plains; to those who have begun the American Prairie Reserve.
Ranchers have yet to be rehabilitated. They continue a crime spree, without remorse, without learning from mistakes of the past. It does not matter what animal competes for grass or possibly harming a cow. It must be killed. This is part of the cowboy mythology of controlling nature.
What makes this especially sickening is that the very people entrusted to protect the bison, the National Park Service, view cooperation with ranchers as a far higher priority than actually protecting wildlife. Again and again from wolves to bison, the Park Service has shown itself to be weak and politically manipulated, by ranching and livestock interests. No park has had a higher learning curve than Yellowstone. Its history is full of killing predators and allowing bears to perform at the garbage dump. Despite the science and understanding that has been revealed, criminal tendencies toward the needless destruction of wildlife remain.
So now they are preparing for a large scale bison killing. Of course, we are told this is to thin the herd. The reality is that ranching interests have been pressuring the interagency task force that oversees the bison for some time. Efforts have been made to buy grazing allotments north of the park, the ranchers have said NO.
Despite their criminal intent, and the fact that no cattle have been afflicted by brucellosis from bison, the livestock industry continues to wage a campaign to kill more bison. They, in coordination with the park service, have tried to make this palatable to the general public by saying the meat will go to tribes in need of food. The tribes have responded by stating that killing on this level is too much.
As a nation we have committed a serious crime by killing that wildlife which stirs our soul. Ranching interests continue to wage a war that started more than 200 years ago. They do not learn; are beyond rehabilitation and continue to coordinate their actions as conservation groups fight amongst themselves for funding and the chance to show balance.
If we are going to stop the slaughter of wolves and the killing of bison, we must organize the communities of Montana. This will take time- five years. But like most western states the vast majority of the population does not hunt. In New Mexico only 4% of the population actually hunts. Larger communities tend to be more liberal. We must show that businesses, churches, tribes and the vast majority of citizens of this state are sick and tired of cowboys controlling their lives, their politicians and their passion-wild nature.
The Park Service will continue its meek and pathetic efforts to appease, while stealing from those that love nature the most-conservationists.
Bold Visions is committed to true organizing and changing public opinion but it requires boots on the ground and the serious art of organizing. This is something we have done for many years with two new National Monuments to prove the point. This is the only way to break this stranglehold and protect the species that define wild nature.
We must work every day to change hearts and minds. Only then will we find justice, the justice I crave every time I stare into the face of a bison.
Few animals stir the heart more than the bison. Few make me feel real shame. They are the magic gift. Their story is one of true crime. The punishment has been little. Our job is to crusade for justice, and in this justice, we will transform a society that comes from a vision, determination and a passion to see it to completion.
Question: What would you call someone who intentionally hurts an animal, any animal, and locks it up to wallow in pain, fear and misery, leaving it to die a slow death, often after hurting itself further in a panicked attempt to free itself from its confines?
The state would call that person an animal abuser, and has laws on the books to punish him.
Strange, then, and tragic, that a person can commit those same behaviors, only this time out in the woods, and the state suddenly calls him a sportsman. It has laws on the books to help him.
It might come as a shock to some that we still allow animal trapping in this state, but allow it we do. Metal clamps that slam shut on an animal's leg, devices that squeeze a body tight underwater until it drowns, are somehow considered acceptable forms of hunting.
It is a cruel practice that belongs to another time. Yet recent efforts to ban trapping in Connecticut have met vociferous opposition from the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and so-called sportsmen's groups. It is hard, however, to see anything sporting about nailing a contraption to the ground that will cause an animal hours upon hours of torture followed by death.
Modern-day trappers like to claim that today's traps, including "padded" metal ones, don't cause animals pain. We invite any to provide a demonstration on their own limb as proof.
Padded or not, traps must slam together hard and retain a tight squeeze on a leg or paw to prevent an animal from getting away. According to animal rights organizations that have studied the practice, while the initial snap can cause injury, more severe wounds often occur as trapped animals struggle to free themselves. They break their teeth trying to bite the metal trap, rip their flesh and break their bones as they frantically fight to get away. Animals have even been known chew off their own foot to free themselves.
Sorry if you didn't expect to encounter such a gross image when turning to this page. But that is the terrible reality of trapping.
Most efforts to outlaw trapping have concentrated on the danger the devices pose to pets and even children. Indeed, a bill introduced to the Legislature last year was titled: "An Act Concerning Child Safety by Restricting the Placement of Leghold Traps." It was defeated (see letter to the editor: http://bit.ly/TLupBk).
(See also a Greenwich resident's account of her dog being caught in a trap: http://bit.ly/XP2aQb.)
It is infuriating to imagine a child or pet being injured (in the case of a pet, possibly killed) by a trap. But even if the devices posed zero threat to unintended victims (which trappers often claim), the practice should be unacceptable in a civilized society, regardless of the target. It is cruel to squeeze and drown a beaver to death for its pelt. It is cruel to attempt to control the coyote population by subjecting the animals to metal leg traps.
The subject of hunting has been debated on these pages many times over many years. That is an argument that will not end anytime soon.
But we should all agree that a practice as inhumane as trapping is wrong. Flat-out wrong. It is unconscionable that the state continues to condone such cruelty. It has no place in modern life. The Legislature should ban it, in this session.