Jerry D’Amico: In defense of trapping and hounding

This commentary is by Jerry D'Amico, a 50-year resident of Roxbury and a hunter and trapper.

There have been several recent commentaries decrying hunting and trapping. These commentaries make many sweeping arguments against trapping based on uncited research and cherry-picking data to support the argument that certain hunting practices and trapping are cruel and imply that the average trapper is sadistic. 

Many of these statements are misleading and outright false. 

Argument 1: Majority of animals caught are nontarget animals: From personal experience, this is a false statement.

Argument 2: There is no motive to trap: Beaver, muskrat and bobcat flesh is eaten by many. Fur prices are up this year. Fur sales at local fairs and shows are strong. Spending time in the woods is the principal motive for many hunters and trappers.

Argument 3: “Beaver Baffles” provide long-term solutions to beaver problems. There is a 4-foot-high beaver dam just south of the village of Roxbury. Beavers have dug into the bank, undermining the railroad bed. The dam is raising the groundwater table in the village, flooding basements and septic systems. Beaver baffles will not remove the potential danger posed. Trapping these animals and removing the dam are the best solution to prevent a disaster.

Argument 4: Fish & Wildlife biologists are not objective and are, in fact, extremely biased. Wildlife biologists are educated in wildlife biology and have years of experience. These commentaries were written by supporters of a group, who are themselves extremely biased. 

Argument 5: Trappers capture raptors and endangered species. In over 30 years of trapping, I have never captured a raptor or endangered species. 

Argument 6: Trappers kill for fun: The trappers I know always note their responsibility to the animal and show respect for wildlife. Trappers kill as a means to the end; that is the essence of trapping. Killing is not the end itself in recreational trapping. Trappers are realists, not idealists. 

Argument 7: Bans on recreational trapping allow for exceptions such as trapping done for “nuisance” control and scientific research. S.201, as introduced, does not make any exceptions for nuisance trapping or scientific research. 

Argument 8: Banning hounding (the use of hounds to hunt bears/coyotes) will protect their property rights and keep citizens safe. Other species of domestic dogs outnumber hunting hounds in Vermont and more human-dog conflicts are related to these animals than hunting hounds.  Annually, there are numerous examples of domestic dogs injuring/maiming humans and wildlife. Banning hounding will not solve the issue of dogs trespassing or harassing wildlife. 

Argument 9: 75 percent of Vermont’s population support a trapping ban. This result is from a single survey paid for by anti-trapping lobbying groups, which had significant input into the wording of the question. 

None of the arguments in these commentaries are based on science. One commentator on VPR last week was quoted as saying that there is no scientific reasoning for banning hunting coyotes with dogs. He was against the practice because he just didn’t like it.

This is the same reasoning used by every hate group in America to justify their position.

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