This article provides several facts that animal rights activists don't want you to know. It is hoped that these issues would help the media and the general public be informed enough to ask challenging questions to the activists who seek to overthrow the historic relationship between animals and people.
Animal rights activists don't tell you that banning so called "cruel traps" like Conibears and footholds can cause you to suffer animal damage longer than would otherwise be required. Think of the animal damage controller as a carpenter. He can still build your home without a hammer and chisel. But it will certainly take longer and cost more. You hire an animal damage controller for his expertise. Banning traps prohibits him from using the best trap for your situation. This results in higher costs both in having the animal removed and the extra time needed to capture the animal using less effective methods. It may also result in greater costs in property damage. Some states like Massachusetts are finding that trap bans have forced cities and towns to pay for animal damage control where they didn't have to pay before. In Massachusetts, highway departments paid about 121,000 dollars to handle 1668 beaver problems. With no beaver harvest, that cost is now estimated to climb to 1,208,000 dollars to handle beaver problems. These estimates are not with inflation adjusted dollars. We haven't even included the costs to private citizens. (Source Division of Fisheries and Wildlife of Massachusetts)
In Connecticut anti groups submit bids for the rights to trap on public lands. Once they win the bid, they call the land a trapping free zone. Now I don't mind anti's spending money to stop trapping on public land. For by creating a reservoir of wildlife, the surplus spill out and go into the property of surrounding owners and cause damage there. This helps fill the pockets of wildlife damage controllers. (cf. "Animal-rights activists try to outmaneuver trappers" October 11, 1998 Providence Journal)
[caption id="attachment_1413" align="alignright" width="300"] This trap should be set by a professional, but it is a superb tool in the right hands. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel[/caption]
When effective animal damage control tools have been banned, the property owner suffering damage continues to suffer more damage due to delays in removing the animal. Take squirrels for example. Conibear traps can be set directly over the entrances to their dens. This type of placement results in very quick capture of the offending animals. The AR activist will say that box trapping gray squirrels is very effective. They are correct. However, there are situations where squirrels won't enter box traps in a timely manner. This delay can allow a squirrel to continue or begin to chew on electrical wires which can cause a fire in your home. Question: Do you think the AR activist organizations will pay for any extra damages caused by the delay in removing problem wildlife? Let's take the example of beaver damage. The Massachusetts town of Chelmsford listened to the advice of the Friends of Animals. They said they could solve the conflict between the beavers and the town without killing the beavers. The result? They failed and the town now has to chlorinate its drinking water because two of the town wells were flooded by the beavers damming activity. In case you didn't know, the Massachusetts Trappers Association solved the conflict by removing about 60 beaver from the town. Don't believe what I am saying? Then why not call the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife?
Of course, we haven't even mentioned the terrorist end of the animal rights agenda, a wing of the movement that makes Operation Rescue look like Boy Scouts. I know you don't believe me. But why not check out their link http://www.animal-liberation.net/info/pub/fn2/index.html
Leg-hold traps, more properly known as foothold traps (because you don't want to catch an animal on the leg you want to capture them on the pad of the foot) is the favorite whipping boy of the AR movement. They love to drag out photos of animals with leg amputations allegedly due to footholds or some sad fox caught in a foothold. They claim that animals suffer endless hours of torture. What they conveniently like to leave out of their brochures is the following information:
1. Most states require that all traps be checked every calendar day. Often there is an exception for under ice sets which would be checked every two calendar day.
2. Most states now require new trappers to undergo trapping education so they know how to properly use the equipment.
3. Footholds is a generic name that refers to a variety of foothold traps. Footholds can have
[caption id="attachment_1989" align="alignright" width="224"] No. 11 foothold used to capture raccoons and otter. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel[/caption]
padded jaws (which the Massachusetts Supreme Court deemed to be a different trap than the Steel Jawed Foothold in a 1995 ruling), offset jaws and steel jaws. Padded jaw footholds have been used to capture endangered species for relocation purposes. Question, why would biologists use a cruel trap to capture an endangered animal in the attempt to save it? One such example is the Otter restoration project. According to Dave Hamilton (Trapper Predator Caller Feb, 1998 p.34), "...almost every one (otter) of the more than 2,700 otters used in these restoration programs were captured in the wild by trappers using foothold traps. Probably not a surprise to you. No.11 longsprings and #1 coilsprings (sometimes padded) are the traps of choice." We at WCC, LLC find it interesting that the AR fail to mention this fact to the public, namely that Otter restoration projects relied on footholds to catch otters for relocation. For more info visit Otter
4. Trappers have learned to modify these traps so that animal injury is greatly reduced. Remember trappers don't want animals to get out of their traps. The less pain an animal feels the less likely it will fight the trap and possibly get loose.
5. Footholds are often used in conjunction with drowning systems so that the animal won't be alive in the trap very long. Muskrats for example are frequently trapped using footholds in drowning sets. The caught animal frequently jumps into the water in an attempt to escape only to hasten its demise and end its so-called endless suffering.
6. If trapped animals chewed off their feet as often as AR literature would lead you to believe, then one would have to conclude that trappers simply collect feet. If that absurdity is to be believed then rational people would have to ask, "where did the fur needed for all these fur coats come from?"
In short, trappers don't deny that footholds cause pain. In fact, all traps cause pain, even box traps. The issue is whether the pain in appropriate according to present technology. Just get a copy of the Antique Trap Journal published by Robert Vance Rt.1, Box 192, Middleport, OH 45760. I am sure he can tell you of the tremendous changes in the foothold over the years. Only people who oppose the utilization of wildlife at all can claim that footholds as appropriately used today are inappropriate and cruel.
In myopic terms, every trap is ultimately non-selective. That is every trap can potentially capture a non-target animal. Just like every hunter can potentially shoot an unwanted target. However, the problem isn't as bad as AR activists would like you to believe. They conveniently forget that the trapper is half of the trapping equation. AR activists consistently ignore how the experience of the trapper impacts the effectiveness and target specificity of various traps. Trappers don't want to catch non-target animals because it wastes their time. This is especially true for animal damage controllers. We don't get paid for non-target catches. For example, animals are often more attracted to one kind of bait over another. Bait selection can be an extremely effective way to reduce non-target catches. Trap location is another technique to reduce non-target catches. My setting a Conibear in your third-floor attic will pretty much guaranty that I will not catch your neighbor's cat. Choosing a trap size is another way to use traps selectively. The smaller the trap the fewer animals you can catch with it. Trappers want to use the trap needed for the animal they seek. Finally, there is a whole new generation of traps that have been designed to catch a particular species. While not perfect, they significantly reduce the risk of no-target capture therefore reduce the potential of possibly injuring non-target animals. Taken all together the educated trapper/animal damage controller can do a great deal to eliminate non-target catches. Is it perfect? No. But can trapping ever be 100 percent perfect? I doubt it. See also Critique of Propaw Initiative for more information
The public and the media frequently confuse animal rights activism with the environmental movement. A/R movement is concerned with whether animals are being treated properly, ie. are they being treated as things not beings. Environmentalists are concerned with how mankind can live in greater harmony with our environment. A/R activists often protest efforts of biologists to protect endangered species or fragile habitats. For example, A/R activists protested the poisoning of gulls at Cape Cod. This poisoning was done to help protect the endangered roseate tern. (A more detailed account of this activity can be found in Wayne MacCallum's article "Carson's Lesson's and Gull Control" published in Massachusetts Wildlife issue No. 3, 1996 pp.26-29) Gulls are a competitor to the tern so a reduction in their population was needed to help the Tern rebound in population. A/R activists oppose this sort of activity because it sets one species against another. They argue what right do we have to kill one animal to save another? The fact is humanity must manage wildlife because our existence impacts nature in various ways. Failure to intercede would only result in greater environmental imbalance. This fact has been underscored with California's Question 4 vote. http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/consbio/prop4.html
At this link you will read, how biologists claim that the ban of foothold traps will undermine their efforts to protect endangered animals from predators.
Invasive species is also a problem in other countries like Australia: "Australia's foul cane toad threatens Kakadu park" By Marie McInerney. ADELAIDE, Jan 18 (Reuters) -
Animal Activists frequently neglect to use precise terminology when referring to various traps. Take the Animal Protection Institute of America's page on leghold traps which on 7/29/97 had a sentence which said, "Padded" leghold Traps Almost identical to a leghold trap except for a thin strip of rubber on the jaws, the "padded" leghold trap is promoted as a "humane" killing device by trapping advocates."
The problem with this quote is that foothold traps of either type, padded or steel, are NOT killing devices. Foothold traps are restraining devices. You may say that don't trappers use footholds in drowning sets? Yes they do. But it isn't the trap that kills the animal it is the way they attach the trap to a drowning wire that kills the animal. Make a few changes in the anchoring system and the animal will be alive when the trapper checks the trap. One simple change would be to anchor the trap on dry ground. Unfortunately, this distinction doesn't seem to concern A/R activists. I don't want to just single out the Animal Protection Institute of America. They are not alone in this failure to use correct terminology. If a trapper ever said that a foothold is a killing device than he too should be chastened for his sloppy use of language.
We have already hinted to this problem already by pointing out how the A/R agenda will cost you more money and/or emotional pain when dealing with an animal damage problem. A/R activists will frequently tell the public how many countries ban the use of the foothold (the number I have recently seen is 89). Here is the list cited by the Humane Society of the U.S.
Eighty-nine countries have banned the use of leghold traps: Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, British West Indies, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Guinea, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova (Moldavia), Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
What they fail to tell you is that most of those countries don't have fur bearers worthy to be trapped at all or where a foothold is needed to capture them. It sounds great to say that countries have banned the foothold but it loses its argumentative strength when you consider that they may not need the foothold. Let us also consider Western Europe. They have banned the use of the foothold. But the Animal Activists neglect to point out that these countries use traps that have not been demonstrated to be any more humane than the foothold. We encourage people to read Dominique Crasson's book Study into Trapping in five European Union Countries. published July 1996 LIcenciee en Biologie (Universite de Louvain-la Neuve, Belgique).
Plus Saudi Arabia does allow footholds to be used on its land at least for research. Read "Short and Medium Term Evaluation of Foothold Trap Injuries in Two Species of Fox in Saudi Arabia" Chapter 4 of G. Proulx editor, Mammal Trapping. Alpha Wildlife Research & Managment Ltd. Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada. 1999.
Plus, there are Countries That do allow footholds.
Surprised? You shouldn't be if you have read this far. The fact is that so called "live traps" can really be quite cruel. For example, a squirrel trapped in a box trap (we don't call them live traps because it is too vague a term; in fact footholds and sometimes snares are live traps). Squirrels often panic and will actually die from fright in the cage. Of course we haven't even mentioned the situations where squirrels freeze to death in the winter cold. So what would be more humane. A kill trap placed over the squirrel den opening, where it has a reasonable chance to die quickly? Or a box trap where it has the chance to die from exposure?
Let's consider Massachusetts where the anti's continuously chant the mantra that Bailey and Hancock beaver traps are humane. Beaver trapping season in Massachusetts extends from Nov. 15-Feb. 28. The Bailey trap is set in water. But unlike the Hancock, the Bailey trap hold the beaver in the cold water. The beaver not being able to get out of the water actually begins to suffer from hypothermia. One biologist found that beaver's core temperature dropped over ten degrees. Normal temperature for a beaver is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. By the way, the biologist checked his traps daily and in the morning. Bailey traps are great in the summer because the water keeps the beaver cool. In the winter, the beaver essentially begins to freeze to death.
Given the anti's anti science propensity, it is not surprising that they wouldn't tell you about the important role foothold traps play in scientific research of canines, such as fox and coyote. According to a Vermont State agency (see details under documentation) on page 6, "Trapping is often used in research and reintroduction efforts. The foothold was used extensively to conduct catch-and-release coyote and red fox home range studies here in Vermont..... Many of the traps used in these efforts are the same as those used by the public to harvest furbearers."
One of the unending mantras of the A/R movement is that vegetarianism utilizes fewer resources than those of us with a meat diet. The argument goes something like this. It takes 12 pounds of grain to create one pound of beef. Thus the idea goes, that meat production is inefficient for it consumes more energy to convert the grain into the meat than we get back. While the argument is true, what it neglects to mention is that animals often eat materials that are of no interest to human consumption. For example, cows eat grass. If cows are grazed naturally, rather than being fed an expensive grain or corn diet, the vegetarian argument evaporates. Eating deer is another example of the misleading nature of the A/R claim. Deer eat brush and bark. Humans don't. So utilization of this food source actually lessens our impact on the earth because it broadens our dietary intake. Hunting also gives us reason to leave land open and undeveloped. Not even farmers can say they don't develop the land.
The second aspect that A/R conveniently forget is that cattle can be raised in areas where raising crops is inefficient. Steppe land where the soil holds primarily grasses often cannot sustain intensive agriculture, but can handle cattle. Utilizing cows to exploit these grass lands for human diet is very efficient given that growing vegetables on this soil is impractical. Consider the American Mid west before the sod busters arrived. It sustained a rather sizable bison (estimates range from 35-70 million) population that under better management could have fed millions of people without disturbing the underlying environment.
In conclusion, sorry A/R activists, you really need to be more clear and forthright with your claims.
Vegetarians think that eating vegetables is somehow more humane then those evil ranchers and hunters. However, what vegetarians choose to ignore is how many animals farmers kill to protect their crops. As I have stated, vegetarian food is watered withe the blood of many animals. Consider the following post from a biologist in Israel. Note how the farmers drown the rodents to protect their alfalfa crops.
"By the way - another "green" method that we use in Israel for controlling rodents in organic alfalfa fields is to water the field with a mobile irrigation unit. These huge irrigation units move automatically on wheels across the field (or in a circle). If you slow the pace a little and remove the sprayer heads from the ends of the outlet pipes you get a 2-meter (6 foot) wide "flood" that moves across the field with the unit. All rodents are drowned and the field remains rodent-free for the rest of the season. The "mini-flood" does not cause root-rot (as was feared it might), because the water is absorbed into the ground within half an hour or so. This is long enough for all rodents to drown but not to damage the plants. The field gets a good watering, huge numbers of raptors are attracted to the field and they feast on the dead rodents (that are not poisoned), there is no use of expensive and dangerous pesticides, and the crop can be sold as "organic" at a higher price. A win-win-win situation! The only downside is the initial outlay for the irrigation equipment and the need for a good (cheap) water source."
Would you like to learn what others say about the animal rights movement then check out below
American's for Medical Progress Educational Foundation
Amp can be contacted at http://www.ampef.org
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Woodstream padded-jaw foothold with shock springs.