Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trapped by Mercy

Posted on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Missoula’s horrifying story of the kitten Mercy’s abuse—smashed spine and pelvis, squished vertebrae, bruised and broken limbs, attempted drowning, shock, paralysis—has brought a national outpouring of compassion. But the agony poor Mercy suffered is exactly what happens to countless tens of thousands of animals that struggle in fear and pain and slowly die in traps every year in Montana.

Tens of thousands of traps are baited, hidden, set and reset across Montana. The furbearing season lasts nine months. For predators like foxes and coyotes, traps can be set all year long, anywhere, no license required. No one knows how many animals are killed, drowned, or how many chew off their feet or twist their limbs until they break, and then chew through tissue, muscle and arteries to escape—it’s so common, trappers call this a “wring-off.” One ranger, trapping for a year, documented that for every animal taken, two are discarded.

Now Montana has vanishing populations of rare and sensitive creatures who live by their wits and endanger no one: fisher, marten, otter, lynx and wolverine, all thanks to recreational trapping.

In any other circumstance, this wasteful abuse would bring felony charges. But every day and night across our public lands’ mountains and prairies, thousands of animals suffer and are stomped and clubbed to death in the name of recreation. Wildlife in Montana belongs to all Montanans. Over the past 15 years the Legislature has killed three bills attempting to rein in trapping. Why is the state letting this practice continue?

Now citizens can stop it. We can support Initiative 160, Montana Trap-Free Public Lands. Find the petition and sign it. Go to www.mttrapfree.org. Put an end to this shameful “hobby.”

Dave Taylor

Missoula

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