Guest Commentary: The Source Weekly 3/20/12

I was vaguely aware that traps were still used to catch animals in Oregon and elsewhere, but over the past week or so, ever since the stories of the pet dogs caught in traps surfaced in the media, I became much more aware of the trapping for sport, recreation, or as a hobby. After many hours spent investigating, and talking to many people who had been more knowledgeable of this activity, I am horrified that killing (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife euphemistically call it harvesting) of fur-bearing wildlife is still permitted in Oregon, by an outdated and barbaric method. Trapping intentionally inflicts great pain and suffering on those animals, wild and domestic, that unfortunately get trapped in vice-like jaws of steel, some designed to kill by crushing the windpipe and breaking the neck, (which often do not work). Others work by fiendishly seizing legs and paws and holding the animal so strongly the only way they can try and release themselves is to chew off their leg or paw, or find final release from suffering and being terrified when the trapper eventually returns. Incredibly, according to ODFW rules, for certain species, the trappers do not have to check their traps for days. The owner of the trap either clubs the suffering victim over the head or crushes the animals - neck or chest by standing on the creature.


These scenarios have been recorded time after time by many people and organizations; check, a local chapter is forming.


The figures for harvested animals by Fur Takers (another ODFW euphemism for trappers) is staggering, but with little economic benefit. According to ODFW, there are 766 active trappers who killed an unbelievable 23439 furbearers - take note of that figure, over twenty three thousand! - in the 2010 -2011 season. Some species of wildlife are allowed to be trapped all year round.


430 trappers of eastern Oregon killed 12478 animals, and 81 central Oregon trappers killed 132 beautiful bobcats alone, amongst thousands of other wild and innocent furbearers such as raccoon, badger, coyote, gray fox, red fox and river otter. In contrast, 854 Oregon hunters killed 5196 animals; this means that roughly the same number of trappers as hunters killed nearly five times the number of animals as hunters did.


There can be no economic benefit in trapping, like there might have been 175 years ago, for according to figures derived from the Oregon Territorial Council fur auction statistics, the average gross income of a trapper for the 2010 - 2011 season was just $948.


So really, why are these people practicing a particularly horrendous way of harvesting creatures of the wild? Surely they are entitled to be left in peace from this inhumane kind of human depredation? One could conclude it’s for sport, or a hobby, for there can be no economic basis for income, based on the average gross income of fur taking in Oregon.


I don’t know any trappers and I don’t know if I have ever met someone who recreates or has a hobby that kills in a way that has had 89 countries ban the practice, and banned by the western states of California, Arizona and Washington.


But I would ask them if ever they have been haunted by the eyes of a dying bobcat, its windpipe crushed, its neck nearly broken by the inhumanity of a trap, as it has struggled interminably, in vain, to release itself? When a raccoon looks pitifully at you, both front paws crushed in barbaric grips of spring-loaded steel, legs nearly torn away in its efforts to be free, do you smile and think what a catch? Is your conscience clear when you club a coyote over the head, its back leg nearly chewed off in trying frantically to escape from jaws of steel and iron, and then stand on its chest, to suffocate the last of its life? You surely need a mind of steel or no conscious mind at all to enjoy hurting and deliberately inflicting suffering on creatures of the wild.


Trapping is barbaric and inhumane in this day and age and needs to be banned.  


- David Eddleston, Bend, OR