This commentary is by Mei Mei Brown, a resident of Brandon.
Reading The Washington Post on Jan. 19, I came across an article I couldn’t ignore titled “Bears were mysteriously missing toes. These scientists cracked the case,” by Dino Grandoni.
A scientist in Canada noticed that bears were missing toes. Investigation found that the toes were straight cuts, indicating that it wasn’t caused by a fight; rather, traps were the culprits. Traps intended for other animals.
It is quite common that traps catch an unintended victim, lured by the scent of food. While the bears aren’t killed by the traps, they often are maimed for life. The picture accompanying the article included a bear paw with three toes severed. What does that do to the survival of that bear? How well can it dig for food or defend itself?
Looking closer to home, we see other harm done by trapping. During the last four months, two dogs have been killed when caught in traps. Were these traps set specifically for these two dogs? Highly unlikely. They, like so many domestic and wild animals, are innocent victims of a “tradition” whose time has passed.
Today trapping is sport, not survival — and a very inhumane one at that. Traps on land are to be checked once a day, those in water once every three days. Think of how long those minutes tick by if you are the one confined by that trap. Your release occurs by being bludgeoned, drowned or another gruesome process to end your life.
These animals have done nothing to deserve this horrific death or maiming. Some of them chew their foot/leg off to escape. Others are seen dragging a trap. Infection will set in, the limb may rot off; many will die a miserable death because of a trap encounter.
It is time to stop this unnecessary harvesting of animals. Trying to communicate with the Fish & Wildlife Board or department is fruitless, as their goal is to provide more opportunities to sell licenses for revenue.
Our only hope to end this animal torture is through legislation in Montpelier. It is anticipated that, within days, at least one bill will be introduced in the House to ban trapping. To understand how a bill becomes law (or not), all bills are first assigned to a committee relevant to the topic to review (Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife in this instance). There is no guarantee that the proposed bill will ever come out of the committee. Many sit in the committee for the two years of the biennium and then die.
We cannot let that happen. Please write to the members of the committee and ask them to move the bill forward. Write to your local representative — follow the link here to find your representative(s).
They may tell you “the bill is in the committee” and “I can’t do anything until it is on the floor.” Yes they can. They see their fellow legislators on a very regular basis under the Dome. Tell them how you feel about trapping, that you want them to reach out to the committee members, as well as fellow legislators, to share your feelings and encourage action on the bill to move it to a vote on the floor.
Three-quarters of Vermonters oppose trapping. It is time that Vermont’s legislation reflects the desires of the majority of its citizens. For more information, visit www.protectourwildlife.org.