Jerry D’Amico: A ban on trapping will only increase human/animal conflicts

This commentary is by Jerry D’Amico, a resident of Roxbury.

There is nothing worse than a convert: be it an alcoholic, a newfound fundamentalist Christian, or a former trapper with an ax to grind. They need to tell everyone else that they need to repent.

So it is with Ms. Peggy Larson, the former trapper who now preaches that trapping is a boogeyman. She cites several cases of “trapper” misconduct. I can’t comment on the accuracy of her stories, but can provide facts to some innuendo.  

  1. Ms. Larson tells a tale of overhearing a “trapper” saying that ‘“animals don’t feel pain.” Did she hear the entire conversation or just the snippet she wished to quote? Note that this tale has been going around for years. But it proves nothing. It may have been out of context or it may have been a misquote or maybe just an uninformed statement.
  2. She cites that only one in three trapped animals are the targeted animal. From personal experience I can attest that this ratio is nowhere near correct. Again. this tale has been used for years with no peer-reviewed studies cited.
  3. She claims most target animals are inhumanely killed. A .22 caliber rifle or pistol is a quintessential part of a trapper’s gear. Trapped animals that are harvested (some are released unharmed) are generally shot by the trapper for a quick, humane dispatch. Despite what folks like Mrs. Larson would have you believe, trappers are not evil, but are conscientious members of your community. 
  4. She cites that some trappers do not check their traps daily. Vermont law requires a daily trap check for traps set on land, but allows for a three-day check for sets in the water. Do not confuse poachers with trappers. If someone is setting traps illegally, or not properly checking them, then the trapping community wants that person reported to the proper authorities.

Ms. Larson’s unsupported claims do not justify banning trapping in Vermont. The examples she cites are extremes and not the norms used by responsible trappers.

The Vermont Trappers Association and Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife recommend the use of best management practices developed through an intense public-private research cooperative. The scientific community has worked with trappers for the last 30 years to improve trap design and ensure the welfare of the animals held in them. This research has cost over $42 million and has brought modern trapping in line with the expectations for humane harvest that the global community, hunters and nonhunters alike, endorse. 

Trapping is the most effective method of removing problem furbearing animals. Banning trapping will only increase human/animal conflicts, animal/animal conflicts, and ultimately have a net negative impact on wildlife. 

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