Listen Up! Animal Wellness Episode #9: The Ongoing Horrors of Trapping

Wildlife in American Under Siege from Commercial Trappers and Their Allies in State Government

Among all horrors inflicted upon our non-human friends by ordinary citizens, the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and other trapping arguably is one of the worst. In today’s episode of the Animal Wellness podcast, host Joseph Grove moderates a discussion with AWA founder Wayne Pacelle (the architect of most of the anti-trapping ballot initiatives) and Brenna Galdenzi, who is leading an anti-trapping campaign in Vermont on behalf of Protect Our Wildlife Vermont.  Joe, Brenna, and Wayne discuss the state of an enterprise that predates the formation of the United States and that was at the time instrumental in its settlement and expansion.

Today, in an era when concern for animals is ascendant, and people understand the misery created by the fur trade, there are thousands of trappers, licensed by state fish and wildlife agencies, who kill hundreds of thousands of fur-bearing mammals.  There are not only the targeted victims, such as bobcats, otters, beavers, fishers, raccoons, coyotes, and wolves, but also the by-catch.  Deer, opossums, skunks, hawks, eagles, and even dogs and cats step on or into the traps as well, and their lives are instantly upended and often ended.   The industry calls them “trash” animals, and they are discarded because they have no commercial value.

Trapping is a form of market hunting, and a vestige of the 19th-century era of wildlife killing driven by commercial motives. Unlike with deer hunting or other forms of common hunting, trappers don’t consume the meat from the animals they kill, but strip the skin off and sell the pelts into the international fur trade. It persists even though it’s typically no longer lucrative for the participants, given the decline in the value of pelt prices.  For the hard-core hangers-on in the industry — totaling in the thousands — it’s done mainly as a hobby, with the sale of the pelts barely off-setting the costs for fuel and other transportation needs and supplies.

Between 1994 and 2000, voters approved five ballot initiatives to ban the use of body-gripping traps to kill animals for commerce in fur or for recreation.  But the larger anti-fur movement turned toward getting major clothing retailers and fashion houses to stop selling fur, and in recent years, dozens have done so — from Armani to Versace to Michael Kors to Macy’s.  Indeed, fur sales are declining worldwide, partly because of concerns about cruelty and conservation, but also because of improvements in natural or synthetic fibers that substitute for fur.  Today consumers know they can have coats that keep them warm and stylish without resorting to killing 20 beavers or a dozen bobcats for a single coat.  And no intrepid explorers to the North Pole or South Pole would ever be seen, or weighted down, by fur. When you talk functionality, today’s synthetic coats are far superior.

In 2019, California not only passed legislation to ban the sale of fur (to take effect in 2023), but it also built on its anti-trapping policies, forbidding any trapping of animals for recreation or commerce fur. Brenna Galdenzi, in today’s podcast, offers a cri de coeur and calls upon advocates to revive their work to stop commercial trapping because it still causes so much suffering and wreaks havoc in ecosystems.

The Policy Animal podcast is a weekly segment that not only delivers timely information but offers insights and analysis you won’t hear anywhere else. We’ll offer in-depth discussions of local, state, or federal policy and elections, and the effects of laws and regulations on corporations. We hope you’ll listen today, and also check out:
Episode 8: Updates on the Corona Virus and The Bear Protection Act
Episode 7: Fixing the Lethal Abuses in Horseracing
Episode 6: The Role of the USDA Checkoff Problems in Harming Animals and Family Farming in the U.S.
Episode 5: Fighting a Diabolical Plan to Round Up Tens of Thousands of Wild Horses
Episode 4: Big Cats: Endangered in the Wild and in Danger as Captives in the U.S.,
Episode 3: Michael Vick and the Continuing Battle Over Animal Fighting about the renewed attention on convicted dog-fighter and NFL player Michael Vick and implementation of the latest animal fighting law.
Episode 2: Shark finning, horseracing, and the PACT Act that includes a layered discussion of how the committee process works and why it’s so difficult to even get common-sense measures into law.
Episode 1: 2019 Victories for Animals.


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