Trapping, is it economically feasible? By most trappers’ admissions, no (see “Feeling the Squeeze,” Jan. 27, 2011). So what is it really about? Is it anything more than recreational entertainment for Joe Cosley wannabes who feel no remorse at dispatching a small animal by beating it to death with a stick or stepping on its chest?
Trappers boast a “connection to a tradition that has been going on for millenia.” Well, I can think of another “tradition” that went on for many more millennia than trapping, was just as cruel, and was finally abolished by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865. Some traditions ultimately are determined by society not to be worthy of continuance. Trapping is on the way to becoming one.
About 4,000 trappers purchased licenses in Montana last year. Over 30,000 Montanans signed petitions for I-160, the initiative to ban trapping on public lands. Montanans are overwhelmingly speaking up on the tradition of trapping.
According to “Feeling the Squeeze,” trappers are “enjoying dialoguing” with “anti-trapping environmentalists,” now concerned about finding a common ground. Perhaps that common ground could be our public lands, most specifically the safe use of those lands for humans and their pets, but also a respite for the wildlife that sustains all Montanans on many different planes.
Oh, but wildlife, apparently we are doing them a favor. If it weren’t for trapping, they would die of starvation, and then, horror of horrors, another animal would eat them. How cruel nature is. And without trapping, they would miss the excitement of being painfully held in a trap waiting to be bludgeoned instead.
On pain and suffering: At last we have some admission by trappers, Mike Stevenson among them, that trapping doesn’t occur without suffering. He says: “There is a lot of pain out there, and for us to participate in the reality of the natural world is part of the circle.” Perhaps if he truly wants to participate in the wondrous circle of the natural world he should consider spending a day in a trap, knowing it will be his last.
David Cronenwett is correct when he says, “The image of the bloodthirsty, cruel trapper plying his trade in the backcountry must be overcome.” I wholeheartedly agree. My “unassailable ethics” tell me to vehemently oppose this cruel blood sport in the name of “ecology,” the “natural world” and, most of all, compassion.