In response to the ongoing debate over trapping, I feel compelled to add my two cents. Like many Montanans, I was not aware of the danger to pets and wild animals posed by traps in this state until I saw a flyer relating the story of Cupcake, slowly strangled in a Conibear trap while his owner tried frantically to free him, near a popular Rock Creek trailhead.
My first response, aside from incredible sadness for Cupcake and his owner, was to worry about my own dog, and to keep him away from the river or any other area where he might find his way into a trap. While researching places we might go, I discovered that traps can be placed within 30 feet of hiking trails, and within 1,000 feet of trailheads and campgrounds. A dog can cover 30 feet in about two seconds, and the thought that mine could actually encounter a trap in that amount of time astonished me. I wondered, as many others probably have, why any setback at all? But that is not really what I want to talk about here.
While I do very much resent the ubiquitous threat posed by these inhumane contraptions, my dog and I have settled into a safe, if mundane, hiking routine. There are, however, many other animals in the woods, and tens of thousands are seriously injured or killed, in this state alone, by traps every year. That's a lot of animals, and they are not, as some folks would like you to believe, dying quickly or peacefully, or being humanely dispatched when they are found alive.
The comparison of traps to landmines is an apt one. Traps are indiscriminate, and they cause intense fear, pain and suffering. If you are a person who believes that animals do not feel fear, or do not suffer, or if you believe that their fear and suffering is a legitimate price to pay for an anachronistic and brutal practice or hobby, then this letter is not written for you. If, on the other hand, you believe that animals have a right to not be tortured, terrorized or killed indiscriminately, then perhaps you can see the wisdom of creating trap-free public lands, or at least doing a little more research. The more I do, the more reason I find to speak out.
If you believe living thoughtfully on the land is a good idea, please consider the truth about trapping. You can find more information at bancrueltraps.com, where you can also download a free PDF copy of Born Free USA's Cull of the Wild, A Contemporary Analysis of Wildlife Trapping in the United States. Obviously, you do not have to agree with their (or my) conclusions, but if you are interested in some actual facts on the matter, this would be a very good place to begin.