Letter to the editor: Tradition is no justification for trapping to continue

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The opinion piece by Paul Noel in favor of trapping is nothing more than that: An opinion. He admits that he has no "measurable" statistics to back up his arguments, yet he urges us to take his statements at face value, on trust. 

Well, why can't trapping opponents say the same? The answer is that obviously there's no way to settle an argument except by using facts and science. And all the evidence supports the fact that trapping is not necessary to "manage" populations or even provide reliable data on population trends. Quite the contrary; trapping is counterproductive to these efforts. 

Yes, trappers are now required to submit annual reports on their harvests, but they are still not required to report on nontarget or incidental takes. So we have no idea how many animals are truly killed and suffer in traps. 

Paul Noel released a single dog from a trap many years ago, and on that basis he says trapping is harmless? Was the dog examined by a vet afterward? How long did the dog spend in the trap? 

Wild animals, unlike dogs, are not accustomed to being restrained and therefore will struggle that much more in traps and suffer commensurate injuries.The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has itself supplied overwhelming evidence of the injuries all species of animals suffer even in Best Management Practice traps (H. Bryant White, "Best Management Practices for Trapping Furbearers in the United States," Wildlife Monographs, December 2020). 

Trappers, unlike hunters, are not even trying to kill an animal; they are simply trying to restrain the animal until they get there, hours later. So how does an animal not suffer in a trap? 

Noel’s opinion piece is completely off the cuff and doesn't even engage in the debate in any serious way. It ends with an appeal to tradition, which is to say, no argument at all. Just because something has been done in the past is no reason to continue with it today. On that basis, we should still engage in slavery, or allow cockfighting, or do any number of things that were horrible in the past, and are still horrible in the present, and future. 

Recreational trapping should be banned, and that is what all surveys, including one conducted last year by Vermont's Fish & Wildlife Department, say that the public wants.

John Aberth



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