Opinion: Trapping and nuisance animals

Photo by Ardeshir Etemad

My Fellow Readers: – We have all experienced nuisance animals such as hearing about skunks under porches, raccoons in the attic, foxes killing chickens, fisher preying on cats, coyotes attacking dogs and livestock, and volumes could be written about beaver complaints.

But:  Have you ever wondered why?  Why do these animals cause us trouble instead of living out in the woods where they belong?

One big reason is lack of habitat. All animals need habitat that suits their particular needs.  A beaver’s habit can be as small as the pond he has built while a coyote’s habitat is measured in square miles.  All animals need enough territory in their habitat to find food, shelter and a safe place to raise their young.

Given a suitable habitat, one thing all animals have in common is they raise young.  During the spring and summer when living is easy and resources are plentiful, life is good.  When fall comes, however:  All the young are unceremoniously kicked out and driven off to find their own way.

Here is where the problem begins. Everywhere these dispersing animals go they are attacked and driven away by the animals that already live there. Unlike a Disney movie or the dog park, the animals in the woods do not all frolic and play together as friends. The exact opposite is true. Every animal in the wild protects its territory fiercely. If they lose it, they die.

Imagine coming home from work and finding a stranger living in your house, eating your food, and sleeping in your bed. How would you feel? That is how an animal feels when they encounter one of their own kind in their territory. This is why these dispersing animals wind up in marginal habitat close to people. They have no choice, there is no place else. 

That is why people have reoccurring problems year after year, which is why the beavers seem to keep plugging the culvert and flooding the road every year. Removing the problem animal only works until the next wandering one comes along. Because of this nuisance animal problems are widespread.  But it is a relatively recent phenomenon.

I grew up in the 70’s and during that time nuisance trapping was the exception not the rule. Why? Because at that time there was a worldwide demand for fur. The United States and Canada have more furbearing animal species than the rest of the world combined. It is estimated that up to 1/3 of the population was harvested each winter. We exported fur all over the world, China, Russia, Greece, Italy and more. That’s right we exported something TO China.

Because fur had economic value the harvest was carefully regulated so that the resource was not negatively impacted. This harvest created space for the dispersing animals to inhabit. It was during the 2000’s that politics, economics and fashion trends caused the value of fur to drop.

That resulted in the reduction of the harvest and a decrease in the available space for young animals to disperse. Thus, bringing us 20 years later to where we are today with increasing nuisance animals.

There is a small vocal minority of people who want to end trapping all together. If they succeed, the controlled take will be gone, and nuisance trapping will increase – with corresponding wanton waste.

One only has to look as far south as Massachusetts to see it. If trapping is eliminated these animals WILL wind up in your backyard. They have no place else to go. And as a footnote all the people who use live traps to capture and relocate animals instead of killing them are only fooling themselves when they think that they are being humane and compassionate. The relocated animals are just being dropped back into the vicious cycle of being driven off and attacked as they try to find a place that does not exist. – Bruce Baroffio, President – Vermont Trappers Association, Northfield

Categories: Opinion

16 replies »

  1. Timothy…….this isn’t at all about trapping, but rather “baiting”. I knew VDC couldn’t go for more than a week without attempting to bait regulars and a group of trollers into yet another mismatch.

    Instead, most have had their say, and it has been firmly established that NO ONE on here can alter the mindsets, opinions, and even facts that exist here or in the general public with regard to this topic.

    Nonetheless, despite this being more than evident – let’s see which prey takes your bait!

    Meanwhile, the entire USA is sinking like a stone………

  2. Bruce,
    You’re not fooling anyone. There are videos and photos posted by your own trapping buddies that show foxes, bobcats and other critters suffering in leg-hold traps and animals with so called kill traps crushing their faces while the animal is still alive. You’re just upset that so many people are finally waking up to the realities of trapping.

    • So true Dan, and there are also some legislative changes potentially coming up to be voted on in Montpelier, hence the vultures are circling, as they wish no impediments put in place by the state that would impact this beloved “sport” or “tradition”.
      All it takes is a quick perusal of the internet to clearly view the disastrous & often horrific results caused by trapping which show domestic dogs dead in traps (including hunting dogs!), cats, and the aforementioned “protected” species killed by the many thousands annually on a nationwide basis.

    • That two-thirds of Vermont residents oppose and that which contains opinions that many individuals & animal-rights advocates disagree with and can afford alternatives to. Whoops, I took it! (I figured it would be me….)

    • Except for the reality that two-thirds of the populace oppose it, there are numerous alternatives, it is barbaric & cruel in many instances, and non-targeted, endangered & protected species, & domestic animals are killed in them.

      So, not so true after all.

  3. All creatures are God’s creation. Before guns and ammo, animals were trapped or stabbed with knives or arrows by the natives and settlers. Many around the globe still hunt with traps and sharp, stabby instruments. As cruel and inhumane as that may be, the people had to eat or defend from other carnivors. If a person is making a living to survive using those methods, it is not my place to judge or condemn. Killing for sport just to leave a carcass to rot in place is not okay in my opinion. I like the natives way: take only what is needed, use it all, and leave the rest alone until needed. Above all, be sure to give thanks, praise, and glory to our Creator for providing it to you.

    • I’ll agree with much of what you stated Melissa, but can you genuinely name more than one or two residents in VT who specifically trap or kill prey via “stabbing” in order to make a living or sustain themselves? As far as natives go, I presume you are referring to Native Americans & not the self-professed “natives” whose ancestors arrived here from Europe like most of ours did at some point & lived in other New England States or NY before settling here? I ask as those on VDC, fully documented by previous posts, give no such “thanks” or prayers in taking down prey as actual Native Americans once did, but ignore the realities of traps that kill domestic dogs & cats and which also kill thousands of animals in protected/endangered species groups (on a nationwide basis), and completely ignore known alternatives to trapping in controlling animal populations —- and instead pridefully recount “tradition” as the reason for continuance – with the included example provided in the last VDC article by a man who happily consumed a puppy whilst on a (presumed) international trip in the name of “tradition”.

      • I don’t fool myself by trying to control what others do that is not to my liking or makes my skin crawl. God knows and sees it all. Those who, knowingly, inflict harm and pain upon one of God’s creatures (including humans) for twisted fun will be dealt with by Him in His time. My family hunted with guns and arrows. As a young child, I had to view deer hung by their hind legs, bleeding out through their noses and mouths. Living near a farm, I saw beef cattle and pigs meet the same fate. Honestly, this issue, I believe is a ploy by lawmakers to get an emotional reaction from animal lovers to condemn hunters/trappers. They see the responses and giggle at the divide they weild from upon their perches. They don’t care about it either way – it’s a ploy and many now know how they wield their witchcraft. We should actually be focused on their killing and slaughtering of innocents for decades. They spill more blood and torture than any trapper could imagine.

  4. They will be pissed with what I know… let’s just say bye bye little beaver

    • Waa????? Some English as maybe a second language, please.
      But if you were somehow(?) insinuating that you don’t respect or honor life as a trapper, that was a prominent point of a couple of the comments, and you merely confirmed it loud & clear.
      Perhaps your comment, along with those of the puppy-eater from the last article ought to be presented to the state prior to voting. I’ll be happy to forward.
      Comprenez Vous?
      I didn’t think so…..

  5. By the way, in response to the author’s article – trapping supporters generally attempt to convey (as in the last string of comments from approximately a week ago) that animals have no feelings. Should one state that they do, one is accused of being anthropomorphic. Yet Mr. Borrofio states that they apparently do, with supporters complimenting his supposed wisdom. Seems contradictory.

  6. I love trapping, the trapping community and the naturalists and ecologists the art produces and maintains! To those who oppose, i thought you followed “the science “? Vermont has a team of biologists that work with trappers to gather data and work to maintain healthy ecosystems. It seems most of you would prefer suburbia, striped lawns and your starbucks instead. Where’s Brenna??

    • Best comment, Sam. Thank you. Good article too.
      Many, many people in this part of the country made a living by trapping. The populations of the trapped species are still healthy, despite centuries of this activity.
      Emotion based arguments should be ignored.

  7. Now the act of brutally torturing and causing inscrutable pain & suffering & ultimate death to innocent animals is being characterized as an “art”?? How incredibly ignorant, but once again – a piece of knowledge that the VT legislature needs to be made aware of when voting this year on potential changes to trapping laws. Laws, I presume, you are personally planning on ignoring since you consider yourself a “free-spirited artistic genius” simply creating “art” in the woods by crushing the skulls of woodland creatures.

    And though you obediently followed your trapping buddies’ dog whistle to jump on this site to defend your BLOODLUST – they neglect to inform you of the TRUE story – that I am NOT a liberal, I am NOT a Democrat, but rather a Conservative. But THANK YOU once again, for the platform under which I can yet once more reiterate the REALITIES of trapping:

    1.) Two-Thirds of all Vermonters are OPPOSED to Trapping
    2.) Trapping kills THOUSANDS of non-targeted species annually including domestic pets nationwide.
    3.) Trapping kills THOUSANDS of species classified as PROTECTED under Federal Law nationwide
    4.) There are alternatives for controlling animal populations other than through trapping
    5.) Trapping is deemed cruel & inhumane by the majority of the US population via the barbaric methodology used that inevitably causes the intense suffering & pain & anguish to all the creatures it ensnares in its steely, unforgiving jaws.
    6.) Your “scientists” are VT Fish & Wildlife employees of the government, not impartial experts such as those previously referenced by me in my posts under comments you can easily peruse should you choose.

    Thereby, how about YOU follow the “science” or facts pertaining to your barbaric “art” which you create?