Brenna Galdenzi: Trapping and its cruelties are not rooted in modern science

This commentary is from Brenna Galdenzi of Stowe, president of Protect Our Wildlife.

Recreational trapping season in Vermont began October 22 and ends March 31. This includes the use of baited steel jaw traps and body-grasp lethal traps, as well as underwater-placed cage traps that drown multiple animals at once.

The traps inflict tremendous fear and suffering on the trapped animals which too often are not even humanely killed. Drowning, bludgeoning, and strangulation are all legal methods of killing trapped animals in Vermont. Unsurprisingly, Vermont trappers have fought recent efforts to limit the kill method to shooting only.

Traps not only injure, but also maim and kill the intended victims; countless numbers of non-target animals like owls, eagles and even turtles are captured each year. Trappers and Vermont Fish & Wildlife cavalierly refer to them as “bycatch.”

What’s more, Vermont Fish & Wildlife doesn’t even require trappers to report these catches. It’s certainly a public relations disaster for the agency to have to disclose these murders, so it’s in their interest to keep it out of sight.

But this is not in the interest of transparency. Wildlife is a resource of public trust, yet wildlife is too often ‘managed’ for the benefit of privileged special interests.

Through public records requests submitted by Protect Our Wildlife, we know of some of these incidental takes that have been investigated by law enforcement. One such recording documented a black bear that had been caught by the face in a body-grabbing death trap that was likely set for a bobcat. The poor bear was probably hungry, and when the desperate animal went to investigate the trap, he paid for it with his life.

Although we can’t protect bobcats, otters and other wildlife from traps, we can protect our pets. Trapping occurs on private lands (landowner permission is required), public lands including state parks, and even national wildlife refuges in Vermont without warning or signage. Trappers are not even required to set their traps off the trails. A dog was trapped on Christmas Day last year in a deadly body grab trap set up on a public footpath in Bristol.

Kill traps set in shallow water pose a danger to dogs until March 31. Cats allowed outdoors are most at risk, as a baited trap set for a coyote or other wildlife will just as easily trap a cat.

Trapping is considered a recreational activity for about 900 licensed trappers who cite “tradition” as the reason they trap. We should protect species from predators, not kill them for “recreation” or to sell their fur to China.

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