Sunday, July 7, 2013

TRAPPING - An unethical method of killing animals

WARNING:  This entry contains very graphic photographs and information that may be distasteful to view and read - I hope so anyway.  If you are offended by images of wild animals in peril, please do not pursue the article any further.  It was very distasteful for me to write this piece.  Someone has to speak for "them."  They can't defend themselves.  The problem with articles that relate to distasteful topics is that if those who care constantly avoid the awareness of an unpopular issue relating to something they care about - then no change can occur.  A head in the sand perpetuates the problem.  

I've been avoiding the creation of this entry for quite some time due to the painful aspect of researching and writing about the subject.  I've had to look at many images of animals in distress to the point that I eventually said, "to hell with it - I'm not writing it."  Then, I thought that hiding from an issue I vehemently abhor will not accomplish anything.  It's sort of like the person who suspects they have cancer, but is afraid to go to the doctor and possibly hear the words "you have cancer", and goes on living in fear and ignorance casting future to luck.

Anyone who knows me or has read my writings knows how much I appreciate wildlife and the compassionate treatment of the same.  I am not an anti hunter.  Let me say that up front. This entry isn't meant to start a controversy related to hunting.   I understand the revenue vs animal harvest equation that collects funds that allow for habitat care and restoration, population management and wildlife propagation performed by wildlife professionals all over this country.  It's an interesting anomaly to understand that wildlife must be selectively "harvested", legally killed in order to assure the perpetuation of game species.  It's a hard pill to swallow, but that's the way it is.  Wildlife is big business in the world of hunting and hunter (sportsmen s) dollars are the primary source of finance that fund the stewardship of wildlife.  That's just the way it is.  The hunting faction is well organized and wields a powerful, influential arm especially on the political front.  There's that word - political.  It influences everything!  Enough about hunting.  This article relates to trapping, an act I can not and will not ever look upon favorably.  It is a despicable,  deplorable, unethical, cowardly way to kill, not harvest, an animal.  The word "harvest" is another of those political words that describes the killing of animals without actually using the unpopular word "kill".  In war we "kill" people, the enemy.  In the world of sportsmen we "harvest" animals, friends in nature.  Interesting isn't it?
I really like to see otters in the wild.  The two above were photographed on Calderwood Lake.  They, for the most part are safe from trapping.  They popped up to investigate the Gheenoe as Douglas and I slowly made our way down the lake close to the shoreline.  They would pop up through the surface here and there showing their curious nature.  I actually laughed out loud at the humorous, yet concerned look on their faces.

I followed them to their den where they disappeared inside.  Then, one just had to come back to the den opening for a last look at the boat.  He was so curious.
The two otters below were photographed on the Holston River back in October last year.  There were actually three otters in the picture below.  They may not show as I cropped the shot.  Actually, one more does show at the waterline:
The otter in the following shot was with one other companion.  I think he was sleeping in those weeds when I came along and disturbed him.  He is from the Holston River.
I just put some otter shots up here because I like them.  Beavers, fox, and raccoon s' are of no less importance.
The point is they are all gone.  I have not seen one otter on the Holston River since photographing the otters above - not since the trapping season ended February 28th. The season in this state is November 16 through February 28th.  Another disturbing fact about the regulation is that there is a no limit on the amount of animals that may be killed.  NO LIMITS!  Beaver may legally be killed year round with the no limit regulation applying to them.  A trap knows no ethics.  It kills male, female and young all in the same manner.  Mink, muskrat and otter all have been condemned with a no limit rule.

In my desire to find out about the reasoning behind a "no limit" regulation as pertains to some of these critters - I, in amateurish fashion, did some investigating into the subject.  I talked to some professionals who apply the rule of law to wildlife.  This is an article of interest and not an investigative analysis of trapping.  I am an amateur and not a professional.  I make it a point "not" to tell the professional how to do his or her job.  I am, however, an inquisitive and concerned citizen about the stewardship of "my" animals.

Using otters as the animal of interest - I asked the appropriate person when the last otter population was studied in order to substantiate a "no limit harvest" on that species.  I was told that (probably) there never was a study done on population.  My obvious next question was, "how can a no limit on harvest be extended to a license holder if the species population and health is not known?  The reply was that the tags, documentation, attached to the furs over the course of the season was indicative of the population health and number.  That answer didn't sit very well with me.  The tags or documentation (whatever that is) is not an indicator of population in one area of the state et: the Holston River.  It may reflect a total state population, although I can't see how.  But, my otters were "all" killed due to that regulation.  There are no more otters on that part of the river I run on.  I'm told they will come back and that they always do.  The American Indian never came back, nor did the American Bison.  Lets move on.  Below are some disturbing photos you may not wish to view.  Then again - if you don't view them you will not see first hand what people who trap love so much about trapping.  Lets get one thing straight here right now.  This is me talking.  This whole bunch of words in this little write-up is primarily based upon emotion.  There is some small degree of fact inserted where deemed necessary, but this is an ethical matter for me.  I do not and can not see where the term sportsman applies to anyone who would cause a wild animal pain, terror and in many if not most cases a horrible, tortured death.  Trapping was a necessity in a bygone age.  It was a living to many.  We've elevated ourselves to new heights over the past few centuries and this maiming and killing of wild creatures with traps is totally unnecessary.  Totally!  No one needs to trap in order to survive in this day and age.  The appreciation for wildlife should have dominated the urge to torture it to death for a pelt.  The swift death by gun is far more favorable than a slow lingering death while held by a heavy steel trap closed tightly around a leg, thereby preventing the animal to seek shelter from the elements and it's natural predators as it lies, many times, tethered by trap and chain on an open field helpless to use the skills of survival instilled in it's brain by evolution.  
Here's a shot that I'm certain a trapper is proud of.  He must be.  He took the picture.  This beautiful animal does not deserve to lie out here for up to 36 freekin hours (the time limit set for trappers to check their traps) exposed to the elements.  This is outrageous and an embarrassment to wild animal stewardship.
Here's another sickening sight.  He will sit there for up to 36 hours (who can check that rule?) until finally he will see the human slowly approaching him with the club in hand, getting closer and closer.  He will experience even more terror than when the trap closed upon his leg and will try his best to jerk and jerk against the chain and pull hard against that which will hold him until relief is rendered by being bludgeoned to death.  Yep - sure is an ethical way to treat an animal.
Is this not disgusting?  I know there will be trappers leaving messages over this and I invite you to do so.  I'll stand nose to nose with anyone who kills in this manner and furthermore I'll be happy to knock down any and all reasons you throw out there to defend this abomination.  And, don't give me the old "bounty on pelts" reasoning.  If your that poor, then go out and get a damn job.
The shot above causes outrage in my heart and the image deeply seated on my mind to the extent that I'll not ever, ever be able to chase it out of my head.  Justify this to me.

The picture above shows the atrocities that trapping inflicts on our wild animals.  How in the world could any rational human being who cares an inch for wildlife inflict this kind of horror on them.  It is indeed a most cowardly way to kill an animal.  Amazing how greed can motivate a "sportsman."   The worse picture of all, however, follows.  It proves the fact that people who kill animals in this fashion enjoy it so much that they train their children to follow in their footsteps.  The kid had an ear to ear grin on his face that made me sick.  
So, I guess the future of trapping is safe since trappers are training their children how to maim, torture, terrorize and torture the quarry they seek.  Traps are the I.E.D's for wildlife.  They incur death in much the same way improvised explosive devices (IED) causes destruction to our troops in war.  Troop IED's just don't hold the soldiers leg until someone can walk up and crush his skull, like an animal in a trap.  The trap is set in an animal runway or in it's burrow entrance.  It has no preference as to civilian or soldier or male, female or child.  It grabs and holds all who step on it.  Disgusting!

Many will say that the issue is the bounty set on the critter for it's pelt.  I say that isn't the issue.  The issue is the person who will, even if a bounty is set,  go out and seek to kill animals in this fashion.  It's a personal decision and not a bounty decision.  If anyone can treat a wild creature in this manner, then chances are he or she will feel much the same compassion about domestic animals or even other humans.  

The National Trappers Association is the nations largest trapping organization.  They say they are committed to "defending" and promoting the safe and "ethical" harvest (killing) of fur-bearing mammals and to the preservation and enhancement of their habitat.

I'd like someone to explain to me in detail, cause I'm thick sometimes, how trapping is an ethical way to kill wildlife.  Try it.   This organization defends our american heritage and the sound management of all wildlife for the future enjoyment and use by all sportsmen of North America.  (That's their mission statement)

Sounds self centered to me.  Read it again - carefully.  "for the enjoyment and use by all sportsmen".  Let's see - what's not sounding right?  Oh ya.  I see.  They don't mention anything about the citizens of the states they represent.  Oops - my mistake.  They don't represent citizens.  They only represent sportsmen - I mean trappers.  So, I guess they just want to guarantee wildlife well-being so trappers can kill the animals that belong to the citizens of the state.

Responsible wildlife stewards, agencies and commissions,  installed by states government are professionals who manage wildlife for "ALL" the citizens of the state in question.  They do not manage the wildlife for only one faction.  They do, however, collect their operating funds through hunting and fishing licenses as well as taxes levied upon sporting equipment.  And, yes they have a powerful say in what happens. The final word rests with the biologists, but that word considers the well being of the species and solidifies it's existence for all the citizens to enjoy.  At least the effort is directed along those lines.

There is another place called the Fur Harvesters Association.  They strive to teach "responsible" trapping methods to the young which are the future of trapping.  There's that word again - "harvest"  The other interesting word used above is "responsible."

An interesting note:  The United States exports $215.5 million worth of mink pelts to China in 2010.  I must say that many of these mink were domestically raised.  Interesting.  So, why do we have a bounty on "our" wild animals?

It seems the bounty on an otter can go as high as $375 for a perfect, large, out of ordinary quality pelt and around $150 for a small pelt.  Beaver pelts bring $80 to $175.  Hardly worth the trapping effort I'd say.  Of course there's no limit on beaver so it may be a profitable endeavor.

This discussion is making me totally sick and I'm about through with it.  Bottom line is they killed all the otters from the Holston River section I work on and I'm pissed about it!  So, if any of you trappers wish to discuss the matter - feel free to comment at the bottom of this entry.  And, don't use the old "it's my heritage B.S. routine."  It was our heritage to shoot bison.  It was our heritage to shoot hawks.  It was our heritage to shoot flamingos.  It was our heritage to even kill bald eagles.  We don't do any of that anymore.  If we're going to protect our wildlife, then lets protect our wildlife through good management programs that benefit all the citizens of the respective states.  And, we have got to realize that the bounty for pelts is not going to make anyone rich but the politicians who take money from fur organizations for the protection of the so called sport.  If fur is so damn important then at least create it domestically and leave our wild places alone for our children to enjoy - not cause more havoc and terror in the animal world.   And finally - if killing a wild animal in this dismal, unethical way causes you joy -- ya might want to re-evaluate your personal life and mental well being.