D’Amico: Anti-trappers seldom right, never in doubt

by Jerry D’Amico
There have been many recent commentaries by opponents of regulated trapping in Vermont, in which the authors make numerous misstatements as well as unsubstantiated claims to make their point.

They claim that 68% of Vermonters are opposed to trapping. They indicated that this was based on two surveys, one conducted by the VT Department of fish and Wildlife [2018] and one by the Vermont Center for Rural Development [2017].

Their reading of these surveys is certainly suspect.
Correctly reading the Poll conducted for the Department of Fish and Wildlife by Responsive Management in 2018 indicates that 58% Vermonters support trapping [32% strongly/26% moderately], while only 25% oppose trapping. [refer to the graph on page 241 of the report.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the Wildlife Society, and many other wildlife groups and societies support trapping, which is also supported by 71 % of Americans.

One commentator cited a 2017 survey conducted by the Vermont Center for Rural Studies, in which she claimed that 75% of Vermonters want trapping banned. This survey did not reflect Vermonters as a whole, since it was developed and paid for by a group adamantly opposed to trapping, and primarily involved responses from Chittenden County, which is more urban than the rest of Vermont.

Other commentaries have claimed that beaver populations are in decline and trapping adults causes yearlings left in the lodge to freeze to death. Based on discussions with wildlife biologists, there is no documented evidence that either of these statements are true. Recent surveys indicate approximately 1200-1400 beavers are trapped annually in Vermont the same number that were trapped in 1950, the first year of trapping beavers in the twentieth century.

These commentators also describe the use of the leg hold trap as cruel. First the use of the term ‘leg hold’ is a misnomer. This devise was designed to hold an animal by the foot, not the leg. Leghold is used by those proposing this bill to alarm the public.

I have heard numerous arguments for banning this devise, almost all inaccurate. The foothold trap restrains an animal, it does not torture or unduly harm the animal. I have walked up to captured animals that were sleeping, not struggling against the devise. Non-target animals are released unharmed, with only a numb foot.

Captured animals are generally harvested by shooting with a small caliber weapon, usually a .22 caliber, not by stomping or bludgeoning.

These commentaries were written by vocal adherents of an anti-trapping/anti-hunting group. It is obvious they do not support the regulated trapping of wildlife. Why do they feel the need to distort the truth?

The author is a Roxbury resident.

Categories: Commentary

12 replies »

  1. I wonder if the author is willing to step into one of those traps to prove his point. (Without the protection of heavy hunting or work boots since the trapped animals have no such protection.) I understand that it is a pretty hearty “SNAP” when it shuts on the leg – Oh, I mean foot. My guess is that the Fish & Wildlife survey was sent to mostly hunters. I’d be more interested in the results of a FAIR, unbiased survey on the subject. And, please Mr. D’Amico do let us know if you come out of the trap with just a “numb foot” or if you fall asleep waiting to be released. Or maybe you would prefer to try a neck “snare’ or a body trap? Probably just gives the trapped animal a headache or cramps…right? No real suffering there. Trapping is barbaric and outdated. The laws need to be rewritten and trapping of all types banned. People and their pets are not even safe on their own property. No living being deserves to die in such an inhumane manner.

  2. Yes, my question too Mary.

    The day after Christmas just last month, a beautiful Shetland Sheepdog, recently rescued, was killed by a “foothold” trap that snapped around the dog’s neck as she apparently bent down to sniff the device – as curious animals will naturally do. She died in the woods as her poor owner, a woman, watched in horror unable to do anything to help her. NOT necessary. NOT deserved. Horrific.

    A quick search on the net depicts dozens upon dozens of dogs & cats (“non-targeted species”) that were killed or lost legs thanks to traps set on both public and private land. None of the pets trapped were found “asleep” with their limb ensconced in these steely traps.

    Yup. I’ll be just plain ignoring the raging retorts my post here shall now be subjected to – many by persons who rarely if ever interject on this forum. But that’s fine. This is a forum that allows free speech as it ought, and I won’t be changing my opinion, and they won’t be changing theirs. That’s been established.

    I love animals. People? Not nearly as much. Especially lately. Particularly politicians.

  3. So the argument is basically moral. Cruelty is bad. We’ll just make laws to force our neighbors to stop? We don’t feel compelled to convince them we’ll use majority rule. Will we be considering the same thinking to reverse the cruelty of preposition 22?

    • “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of God’s compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men”: St Francis of Assisi.

      Animals rock. People not so much lately, sadly. And we all are collectively paying that price. Prop 22 is abject evil.

  4. Allowing an unleashed pet to run free on private property, any time, especially during trapping season, poor judgement. Be a considerate neighbor and use common sense. Introduce yourself and ask if any hazards exist, electric fences, old wells, mean bulls, quicksand, (yes it does exist in VT.) etc

    This is Vermont. Not urban Mass. or Conn. When such mishaps occur, you have only yourself to blame. Only broadcasting your poor judgement.

    • If I am not mistaken, the dog being spoken about was killed on the dog owners PRIVATE property. She was not the one trespassing. Why shouldn’t the dog’s owner expect her property to be safe for her and her pet? How about the hunter be the good neighbor and ASK before placing traps on someone’s property whether it is posted or not. Opinions like yours are why people dislike hunters/trappers so much, a lot of hunters/trappers think that because their grandfather hunted a property – it has given them the right as well. Never mind that there might be homestead there now. It should be a given that if you don’t own the land and pay the taxes on it – it is not yours to use without permission. But of course since hunting/trapping is such a cash cow for the state, the law governing it has generally been written in favor of the hunter/trespasser. Sorry pissed VTer – but Vermont has become a bit more urbanized and those moving here expect that their property will be safe for them to use without the threat of arrows and buckshot whizzing by or having to watch their step because of leg hold traps and snares. The only poor judgement evident here is that of the state for taxing the crap out of landowners while taking away more and more of their rights.

  5. Numerous dogs & cats as well as wild “non-targeted” species have been killed in every state on BOTH private and public land. Take a look at the pics posted on the net. Read but a few articles of heart-broken owners describing their pets who suffered a very agonizing death or lost a limb which then cost their owners many thousands to have medically/surgically remedied to some degree. How would you feel if that were your beloved companion & family member? How did that elderly Vermonter who had recently rescued that beautiful dog with the hope of providing her a second chance at a new life feel as she personally watched that innocent canine screaming in pain and writhing in deep distress as it died in her arms?? No Vermonters, tourists, domestic animals, nor non-targeted species should ever have life or limb endangered as they traverse their private property or any public lands in VT. Have a heart. So to speak.

  6. You are mistaken. The incident in question was not on the dog owner’s property. As accepted practice, the Conibear trap was within an enclosure intended to exclude dogs and other, non target species. The dog would have been outside the owner’s control digging access to be caught. As an outdoorsman and major property owner, I have yet to witness arrows or buckshot “whizzing” by. I welcome licenced trappers and have never experienced a negative incident. Your bogus rhetoric only serves to incite dysfunctional, house-bound, cat hoarders. Regarding urbanisation of Vermont, the population is relatively unchanged in many years. Outside of Chittenden county population has actually diminished. As with travel anywhere in the world, having respect for local tradition goes a long ways to gaining acceptance. Keep in mind, in rural Vermont your local, first responders are often volunteers, and active sportsmen. Insulting their way of life is not wise. Come mud season, you may wish the neighbor with bear hounds offers to pull you out. Extend respect and you’ll get the same in return.

  7. Yes, the plethora of people who devote their very lives to staging photoshopped pics of dead dogs and cats on the internet purportedly caught in steely-jawed traps planted by “sportsmen” along with articles of how they meant their gruesome, respective ends is seemingly never-ending, right? And the sexist comment re: “cat hoarders” only provides contentment to those of us who respect all living beings and I merely can thank you for your backhanded compliment, as most kindhearted Vermonters I know would certainly prefer to “hoard” five hundred cats than ever risk the precious life of innocent dog whose entire species has been in service to mankind in the form of militia & law enforcement partners, guides to the disabled, and proverbial best friends to countless children over the centuries – to death by “foothold” trap. Keep in mind as well, that my comments and opinions are my intrinsic right bestowed by God and my Constitutional rights and insinuating that fellow Vermonters who nobly and professionally serve in positions of service to others might refuse to assist me in light of my “gall” to vocally express my compassion and love of all creatures and the disgust & deepest of sorrow I feel when learning of innocent animals tortured and murdered by traps set upon public lands seems awfully foreboding on your part. Yet I shall continue nonetheless, as always, to abide by my conscience and maintain my stance as is my innate right. And during mud season? I’ll pull myself out should need be. In your spare time, view the video footage of that elderly woman’s account, easily accessible on the net, re: her dog who lost her life just last month. Those are indeed the facts. She was, very sadly, present during the entire horrific ordeal.

  8. In response to pissed VTer: I went back and watched the news report again. You are correct – it was not the dog owner’s property, however, it was a non tagged trap that was set on private property without permission. So hunters/trappers are not as pure as you would have the public believe. I know that this does not include all hunters, but I have personally witnessed the bad seeds in action and have read and heard more than a few stories of illegal behavior so don’t preach to me about what Saints you believe all hunters to be. And by the way, no one needs to spout “bogus rhetoric” to incite anything – hunters/trappers are able to generate enough negative press all on their own. You know, like the guy caught on the trail camera who shot a mother bear leaving her cubs to starve to death. Or like the guy standing in the middle of my road, leaning on his truck, aiming his shotgun at a doe, with two fawns at her side, that were standing in my neighbor’s driveway – who – if he hadn’t been caught – would have shot towards my (in plain view) neighbor’s house. And what about the ones in their pick up trucks driving ever so slowly down the dirt roads, scanning the woods, back yards and driveways? I witness them every year. As an avid sportsman, major property owner and world traveler you might want to encourage a bit of respect for others by some of your buddies. Oh, but silly me….they are just following tradition…..right?

  9. I myself recall when tradition in Vermont meant being independent-minded and leaned strongly toward political conservatism. My how things have changed in VT – just as they do & have done across virtually the entire USA. Though as a VT’er who is apparently supposed to kowtow under any circumstance to tradition according to Mr. pissed, I instead actually, in VT tradition, maintain a libertarian, independent mindset about every issue, every organization, and every individual I come across as is my aforementioned intrinsic right. I stand against trapping and always shall – Mr. pissed, you go ahead and of course allow trapping on your private property following the laws under this state & I will again never make such a choice in keeping with same said laws. But remember, as you cautioned to me – the pendulum swings both ways in this instance as “Vermont deserves better” so aptly detailed: What goes around, comes around. Like it or not, there are MANY Vermonters who oppose trapping for all and for more of the reasons described herein.