Now that most of the work is done to build Underhill House, I am starting to get back to my writing career. I contacted my editor at Isthmus to tell her I was ready to take an assignment. She asked me to write an article about trapping in Wisconsin because the state has just decided to open areas of the state parks to trapping.
I knew nothing about trapping and decided it was a topic I would like to learn more about, so I accepted the assignment.
I’m a vegetarian – partly because of the environmental impact of the factory farms. If you want to know more about this connection check out Mark Bittmann’s latest column on the UN’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”
But I also feel that because I have options, there is no reason I care to kill animals to eat them. I also accept that there may be some environmentally friendly ways to eat meat, such as eating deer or other wildlife in places where they are overcrowded.
I spoke with a number of people who trap, and state Department of Natural Resource staff who regulate trapping as a way of managing wildlife resources and I also spoke with people who are vehemently opposed to trapping on the grounds that it is cruel and inhumane.
I’m sure there are some irresponsible trappers out there, just like there are bad apples in everyoher barrel, but the trappers I met seemed like reasonable, responsible people. The DNR staff were competent and thoughtful people who care about conservation. Much of what the anti-trapping people said seemed to be uninformed and even clearly untrue.
Yes, animals can be hurt in traps, and when the trappers return, they are killed, more often for their fur than their meat. Fur is a dirty word in this country, and I am certainly not going to wear any, but in many parts of the world, it is considered a way to keep warm with a renewable resource instead of using synthetic materials. And the same people who won’t wear fur, often wear down jackets.
We live in a world of contradictions. I would personally like to see some of that energy being used to protest trapping be directed instead at factory farming where the amount of misery caused for human convenience is incalculable. I’m not personally convinced by cries of cruelty from anyone who eats meat or wears leather shoes.
If you want to read what I learned when I started researching trapping, here is the article.
Carolyn Schueppel was walking her dog in a privately owned conservation area near Lake Waubesa where dogs were commonly, but illegally, let off the leash. She let Handsome, her three-year-old Border collie mix, stretch his legs, and he raced out of sight. She found him just beyond the conservancy border in a Conibear trap that had been set to catch and kill raccoons. Terrified, Schueppel struggled with the trap but was unable to open it, and was forced to watch Handsome die.
“It was horrible,” Schueppel says. “It’s still horrible. I’m struggling. The trapper set his trap on private land about 100 yards from where he was supposed to be. I don’t want to walk in the woods by myself anymore.”
A year later Fred Strand and his golden retriever, Hank, were hunting for grouse and woodcock in northern Wisconsin when Hank stepped on a foothold trap intended to catch wolves. This time, the dog’s story ended happily. Strand is a wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and knew how to pry open the jaws of the trap. The foothold trap is the same design used by biologists who capture large predators to attach radio collars for studying their habits. Hank ran on without injury.
New legislation will open most state parks to trapping for the first time this April. These parks will also be open for trapping from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. Under the law traps need to be set more than 100 yards from trails, park shelters and other high-traffic areas.
Conservationists say trapping is a useful tool for maintaining healthy wild animal populations. Trappers say they are harvesting a renewable resource to supply a global market for fur clothing. Opponents say trapping is unnecessary and inhumane.
Beyond the philosophical differences, are we going to see an increase in the number of pet injuries or deaths in the state parks that now allow trapping? And how safe are hikers who step off the trails? READ MORE
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH TRAPPING?