No legitimate argument in favor of trapping

NORTH BENNINGTON — I came within inches of stepping in a steel-jaw leghold trap while hiking along an established trail on state land. While I would have suffered a lot of pain and significant injury had it crushed my foot, the fact that I was hiking with my dogs and grandchildren elevated my concern to another level and led me to give this issue a critical review.

As demonstrated by my experience, these traps are entirely indiscriminate, maiming and often killing animals, wild and domestic, that not only are unintended targets, but which often are protected species. Dogs, cats, deer, black bear, eagles, turkeys, and owls are among the many animals that are captured in these devices by trappers seeking fur, control of “nuisance” animals, or simply for “sport.”

If a similarly lax approach were applied to hunting, people would have license to shoot anything that moves.

Of course, no creature should be subjected to the suffering caused by this cruel and inhumane practice. Trapped animals are left to suffer for hours or days in the elements, while experiencing blood loss, frostbite, exhaustion, predation, severed tendons, torn ligaments, dislocated joints, and broken bones and teeth (from desperately chewing at the trap to escape). Many die trying in vain to escape the steel jaws of the trap. With no other hope of escape, trapped animals may resort to amputating their own limbs.

It has been argued that trapping, including the use of leghold traps, should be protected because it is a longstanding tradition, is “necessary” to limit property damage (such as flooding caused by beavers), and provides an important economic benefit.

None of these arguments has merit: The economic value of fur trading continues to decline with limited to no markets; there are more effective, lasting, and humane ways to control nuisance wildlife; and, while there is value to tradition, it also is necessary to recognize when a tradition (for example, discharging raw sewage into rivers, burning plastic trash in backyards) must be abandoned.

Legislation has been proposed that would severely restrict trapping and ban the most barbaric trapping practices. Hardly a radical idea, as such restrictions already have been enacted in 10 states and more than 100 countries. Please consider contacting your state representatives and senators and urge them to ensure that Vermont joins this growing group of responsible and humane jurisdictions.

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