Thursday, March 22, 2012

Live and let live

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 4:00 AM

In his recent letter to the Independent (see “Let ’em trap,” Feb. 23), Angelo Pecora of Seeley Lake expresses the opinion that the trapping debate—especially the part of it carried on by trapping’s critics—has gone on long enough. For the most part, Pecora makes his case with admirable civility, although he drifts toward undue disparagement when he resorts to using a term like “anti-trapping rhetoric” to describe the writings of those who genuinely, and in a heartfelt way, abhor trapping’s implicit cruelty.

Moreover, Pecora displays a misunderstanding of anti-trapping sentiment when he says “Enough propaganda on how they die” when referring to what non-trappers have to say about the ordeals that animals caught in leg-hold traps endure before they’re clubbed or drowned: “propagandizing” is not the primary intention of those who graphically allude to the suffering and misery that trapped animals experience; the primary intention is to engender awareness of the terrible unkindness that trapping really is, in hopes of convincing us to stop doing it.

Judging by what he says in his letter, Pecora would seem to be a live-and-let-live kind of guy. But I wonder what his limits are in that regard. Evidently, he’s willing to countenance his neighbors’ trapping for “sport” when the “season” for it arrives. But he’s also a guy who loves his dogs and his mule. I’m just wondering whether he’d be okay with a dog-owning, mule-owning neighbor who badly mistreated those animals. Would he be upset by his neighbor’s behavior? Would he try to interfere with his neighbor’s “right” to be an abuser of animals?

What Pecora and other trapping apologists need to realize is that anti-trapping “types” perceive animal trapping as animal abuse, a perception that’s hardly inaccurate, really, given what a trapped animal actually goes through once the muscles, nerves, blood vessels and bones of its foot or leg are hard-clamped between the jaws of a steel trap, typically for hours on end. This is not to say that it is trapping’s purpose or trappers’ intention to torment wild animals; and yet, animal torment is an all too frequent outcome of animal trapping. And for what? So that trophy wives and the nouveau riche can relish a vainglorious exhibitionism? Frankly, I find it hard to imagine a true woodsman being willing to cater to that kind of human idiocy. I’m grateful to our local papers, the Indy and the Missoulian, for their willingness to make room for the trapping-adverse viewpoint.

Thomas A. Azzara

Missoula

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