Time to hang up the traps
February 11, 2014
Contrary to Mr. Beatty’s opinion (Feb. 3), there is no need for trapping, even for trapping beaver in Beaver Creek Park. Thanks to the installation of beaver deceivers and overflow pipes, more and more ranchers, communities and irrigation districts no longer pay to constantly rig conibear traps in freezing water for flood control.
As Mr. Beatty noted, trapping is a short-term solution anyway; his son trapped more than 200 beavers, and in no time “they were back, thick as ever.” A beaver deceiver lets water flow through the dam, while at the same time creating an audial pitch that makes the beaver think his engineering is complete. It’s an elegant, long-term, safe solution that takes minimal upkeep and saves animals from suffering slow, agonizing deaths by drowning.
Like landmines, traps are hidden and dangerous. Recently, a beaver trap mutilated and broke a man’s leg in Oregon. He suffered from severe exposure before someone stopped on the road, where he’d dragged himself, the trap still on his leg.
Trapping to protect livestock is also unnecessary. A coyote can have from one to 19 pups. The more trapped out, the more they produce. In more than 100 years, the coyote population has not changed. But chronic fear, maiming and death have replaced pack stability. Less than a fraction of one percent of livestock fatalities are due to predators — not even enough to be a viable statistic.
Traps also do not control disease; sick animals are not lured by bait, healthy ones are. Traps do not discriminate: any creature can be killed in a trap, including migratory birds, endangered species and pets.
The public has every right to enjoy our public lands safely and without leashes outside city limits and specifically signed areas. Our rare and sensitive wildlife populations are dwindling, thanks to trapping and habitat destruction. It’s time to trade the traps for cameras. A good photo is worth far more than a carcass. As renowned bear biologist Charles Jonkel said, “The days of trapping are over. Now it’s time to preserve the animals.”