This letter is to address the concerns that Fran Buel had with me using my “opinion” while serving on the Hill County Park Board, as I wonder if she would still feel the same if I had the same opinion as she.
As I serve on the Park Board, I plan to use what little knowledge I have, knowledge I can gain, research I can do, my best judgment, my own conscience and listen to people (even Fran), plus my own opinion, to try to do the best job I can do, while being fair to all the “inhabitants” of the county parks.
Just to clarify, I am not talking about trapping where you catch the target animals alive and relocate them, I am all for that as long as it is done as humanely as possible. I am talking about the ancient barbaric act of recreational/commercial trapping with the use of steel–jaw leg hold traps where the animal (many times not even the target animal) is caught and killed so that trappers can rip off the animal’s fur and sell it to the fur fashion industry.
With the exception of trapping of wolves, our state does not even require trappers to check their traps and snares in any specific period of time. As a result, these trapped animals can be left lingering in traps and snares for several days and nights while exposed to extreme, cold temperatures, and left vulnerable and defenseless to any attacks from carnivores who may come by in search of food. These animals suffer in traps until the trapper returns to either stomp, club, strangle or shoot them to death. It is not only that pets can accidently be caught in these traps (as happened during last trapping season when over 50 dogs were trapped), I feel it is inhumane for any animal to endure that … even the “target” animal.
It is my opinion that these traps should never be used in parks where families and pets recreate. They are dangerous, brutal and, because all traps are baited and have the potential of luring any animal in, they are indiscriminate and not an effective management tool. According to my research, the average is two animals killed and discarded for every target animal caught.
Research also shows there are much better and humane ways of accomplishing what trappers are defending so profusely — besides the obvious of making money. For example, there is a device called a Beaver Deceiver, which I just recently discovered during some research.
A description of the device reads: “A Beaver Deceiver can be installed on any waterway, once. Set traps are a temporary ‘solution,’ while the Beaver Deceiver not only keeps these animals alive, but this water flow device is also an effective long-term solution. The Beaver Deceiver allows water to flow freely while eliminating the sound of water flow to the beaver’s ear, so to speak.
“As a result, a beaver does not feel the need to build a dam or otherwise block the water flow and no flooding happens.”
In my opinion, this is something definitely worth looking into.
Also, if among the reasons for trapping beaver is that they are toppling cottonwoods, according to Missoula’s city forester, Morgan Valliant, “cottonwoods love destruction, for every one that goes down, a hundred pop up.”
Finally, I-167 “prohibits torturing and killing the public’s wildlife by recreational and commercial trappers while allowing for trapping of animals by state employees for reasons of health, safety and science.” This initiative would provide for reasonable, humane and common-sense management.
One statement that really resonated with me while researching was this: “By killing beavers, trappers cause the land to further dry up, something we can no longer afford.”
I think it is time that we all give this some very serious thought.
(Renelle Braaten is a member of the Hill County Parks Board.)