If these cruel traps were judged by the agony they inflict, they would never be justified.

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“In My View"  6/29, Bend Bulletin written by Bill Bodden.


At a hearing before an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife commission in June it was evident that attempts to change the rules on trapping, including banning, are a controversy with strong opinions on both sides. An advocate for trapping spoke disparagingly about trails being "usurped by yuppies or other urbanites" be "limited so Fluffy can run loose without worry." (State approves trapping ban - June 8) This statement suggests an arrogant attitude whereby trappers have claimed that whatever parts of public lands they choose in Oregon for trapping are, for all practicable purposes, theirs and visitors to these areas are essentially intruders. A clash of cultures would be a more accurate description of the positions taken for and against trapping. Critics of trapping that I know will be surprised at being classified as "yuppies."


Since colonial times United States history has been replete with conflicts between people of authoritarian dispositions indifferent to the human and civil rights of others and others pursuing humanitarian and humane ideals. Slave traders and plantation owners who purchased and held other human beings in bondage were opposed by earlier versions of "yuppies" in the form of abolitionists. Future generations would see similar issues fought in different arenas with people on one side oppressing Native Americans, denying African-Americans their civil and human rights and refusing to give women their right to vote. There were also capitalists who abused the system with slavery by other names.


Fortunately, for the progress of American society and civilization "yuppies" of those eras in the form of civil rights workers and suffragists rose to push back the regressive and abusive policies of the powerful so that Native and African-Americans now enjoy equal rights as citizens, if not fully free of racial prejudice. Women have the right to vote and enjoy a measure of independence denied their grandmothers and only dreamed of by their great-grandmothers. After many struggles and shedding of blood, a significant segment of American labor enjoyed safe and humane working conditions with a living wage. (Unfortunately, recent assaults being waged by corporate giants and their fifth columns in government suggest this last progressive step may prove to be only temporary.)


So, how are we to answer these questions? Will people seeking an end to the barbaric treatment of animals caused by trapping enjoy a measure of success similar to those who opposed slavery and persecution of people in the past? Will a few hundred trappers, aided and abetted by like-minded bureaucrats in Salem, continue to deny thousands of visitors their right to roam freely over Oregon's public lands and enjoy their beauty, or will they need to proceed with trepidation that is more appropriate to crossing a field in a former war zone that may have been booby-trapped with landmines? Search and rescue teams frequently withdraw their dogs from searches if they have cause to fear traps in their search area, possibly putting a missing person at greater risk.


It is interesting that in this debate the barbarism related to trapping is mostly ignored by trapping supporters. One correspondent to The Bulletin did tackle this issue by essentially equating trapping with what animals do to each other in the wild. Not so. Predators in the wild kill their prey quickly and only for food. They do not kill for "sport" or leave their prey to suffer for hours and days to eventually cater to the vanity of people willing to buy their pelts. Nor do they kill indiscriminately and toss unintended victims away like trash.


Where is the "sport" in setting traps in a forest, going home for a few days, and returning to find some dead or tortured animal in a trap that may be worth a few dollars or nothing to the trapper but a tragic loss to the victim's mate, litter or the ecosystem?