The time of year is approaching when the main thing on many people’s minds is trapping. But we aren’t just talking… Read More
The time of year is approaching when the main thing on many people's minds is trapping. But we aren't just talking about where and when to go trapping, or what to say to your boss if you want to skip work to go trapping. We're also talking about a very important Montana trapping ballot coming up on Nov. 8. If it passes, it will ban trapping on the state's public lands. Vote Clinton or vote Trump, that's your decision, but please make sure you vote NO on i-177. The campaign has been primarily funded by out-of-state animal rights groups. If they win this, they'll be one step closer to banning all trapping and hunting, and to their ultimate goal of making us all vegan. We're serious, that is their goal.
Speaking of trapper hats, we were pleased to read this article about how more women are hunting. It would be nice to hear of the same thing happening with trapping. And speaking of women in trapping, here's a lady who truly inspires us. We love this video of Jane Dragon telling us about how nothing is wasted when using animals - a great example of how to use animals responsibly.
We've penned our own little attack on PETA ... Ok, let's call it a little investigation instead. We've looked into one of PETA's angora rabbit videos (above) to try and determine whether it was staged. A good read, indeed!
Let's end our roundup with a few articles of note, starting with this blog post, entitled Why Fur Is the Ethical Clothing Choice, which explores public opinion about animal use and the ethics of the fur trade and fur fashion. We loved the story of the fisherman who found this ancient axe while fishing for bass. And lastly, the horror story of the month is one about Russians, namely two married couples stuck in a small cabin in the Arctic and waiting for a rescue that is a month away. Can you imagine the arguments?!? Oh yeah, and they are also surrounded by hungry polar bears.
A recent on-line, anti-trapping rant by Born Free USA boss Adam Roberts (“What kind of person still traps wild animals?”, Huffington Post,… Read More
A recent on-line, anti-trapping rant by Born Free USA boss Adam Roberts ("What kind of person still traps wild animals?", Huffington Post, Sept. 7, 2016) underscores how trappers are on the front line in the war against humans using animals – a war in which the weapons of choice are misleading images, inflammatory rhetoric, and exploiting the information gap between rural and urban cultures.
Roberts' attack drives home how important it is to explain, again and again, the vital role trappers play in responsible wildlife management and conservation.
Like other "animal-rights" groups, the folks at Born Free rage against a wide range of animal-use activities. This time, as part of their "Victims of Vanity 2" campaign, they are promoting an “undercover” trap-line video showing “atrocities” that they claim “occur regularly across America”.
“What kind of person purposely destroys a beaver dam and sets a ‘wall of death’ of Conibear traps," asks Roberts, "knowing that the unsuspecting beavers will return to repair their handiwork – only to be possibly smashed across their abdomens and drowned?”
The insinuation is that such traps cause terrible suffering. Born Free's own video, however, shows beavers that have clearly been struck by the trap bar across the back of the neck, breaking cervical vertebrae and causing rapid death, just as this quick-killing trap is intended to do. These traps were developed through several decades of (on-going) scientific research to provide the most humane possible methods for controlling wildlife populations.
Thanks to this pioneering work, the time-to-death produced by quick-killing traps like those shown in Born Free's video is now measured in seconds. Roberts knows, however, that most of his readers live in cities and have little real contact with nature. People who find their meat neatly wrapped in cellophane on grocery store counters are easily shocked by pictures of dead animals, no matter how humanely they were euthanized – especially when cued with sufficiently emotional rhetoric.
Similarly, the live-holding devices used for capturing larger predators – like the coyote shown in Born Free's video – are not diabolical instruments of “torture”. Modern, live-holding foot traps are used by wildlife biologists to capture and release – unharmed – wolves, lynx, river otters and other animals for radio-collaring or reintroduction into regions where they were previously extirpated. To claim, as Roberts does, that such traps “have remained relatively unchanged for 400 years” is nonsense.
Should We Kill At All?
But what about the bigger question Roberts implicitly raises: should we really be killing wild animals at all?
In fact, there are many reasons why wildlife populations often must be managed. Overpopulated beavers can completely “eat out” vegetation in their region; the population will then crash and there may be no beavers at all for many years. Regulated trapping can smooth out these boom-and-bust cycles, maintaining healthier and more stable beaver populations. This is one reason why biologists believe there are now as many beavers in North America as there have ever been. There can, however, be too much of a good thing: beaver dams in the wrong places can flood roads, fields, and forest habitat. When your basement (driveway, back yard) is flooded, who’re ya gonna call: Mr. Roberts ... or your local trappers’ association?
Meanwhile, coyotes are the number-one predator problem for sheep and cattle ranchers, and many states and provinces have been obliged to offer bounties to keep their populations in check. Coyote, fox and raccoon populations are also culled to protect endangered ground-nesting birds or sea-turtle eggs. Overpopulated foxes, skunks and raccoons are prime vectors for rabies and other diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets. For these and many other reasons, there will always be a need for trapping, whether or not anyone buys fur. Without a market for fur, however, these management efforts would be paid for by the government – i.e., by tax-payers – as they now are in many parts of Europe.
Trappers protect nature in other ways that are not often publicly recognized. While we all “care” about nature, most of us now live in cities. Trappers are our eyes and ears on the land, sounding the alarm when nature is threatened by inappropriate resource extraction or industrial activity. Trappers' associations across North America are on the front lines to ensure that forestry practices respect the needs of wildlife, for example by leaving a swath of uncut trees along watercourses. And, like the canary in the mine, trappers are the first to spot changes such as reduced reproduction rates among mink that may signal industrial pollution upstream. Harvesting data, including the sex and age distribution trends, provide vital information about the health of our wildlife populations.
Most important of all, nature is not a museum. Most wildlife species produce more young each year than their habitat can support to maturity. The ones that don’t survive feed those that do. We are part of nature and we too can make use of the surpluses that nature produces – year after year, generation after generation – so long as we protect the habitats and ecosystems that provide those surpluses. This is called “the sustainable use of renewable natural resources”, a central conservation principle promoted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other conservation authorities. (By contrast, the synthetic materials that animal activists would have us wear are usually derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.)
Does all this give us the right to abuse animals? Absolutely not.
The Born Free video also shows a trapped coyote being kicked, prompting Roberts to ask, "What kind of person watches a tethered and helpless coyote writhe in pain and distress, unable to move because of the intensely unforgiving steel jaws clamped to her paw, kicks her in the side, and then finally shoots her in the chest so that her lungs fill with blood, and she dies a miserable, suffocating death?"
Most trappers would be disgusted by this scene. There is no excuse for kicking an animal, ever. Furthermore – Roberts' "intensely unforgiving" rhetoric aside – every trappers' association and trapper-training manual teaches that live-trapped animals should be killed quickly and humanely with a direct shot to the head. But this completely unacceptable behavior of one individual does not give Roberts or Born Free the right to smear the reputations of more than 200,000 North American trappers.
On the contrary, as society becomes more interested in protecting our natural environment, it is time that we learn more about these remarkable and knowledgeable men and women – the small minority among us who continue to live close to the land.
What kind of person still traps today? Far from the grotesque caricatures that animal activists like to portray, in many real and practical ways, today’s trappers are the true guardians of nature.
It’s time for our April Fur in the News roundup, so here’s our summary of the media’s coverage of trapping, sealing,… Read More
It's time for our April Fur in the News roundup, so here's our summary of the media's coverage of trapping, sealing, fur fashion and stupid activists ...
Let's start with trapping, and this fantastic guest blog post by "modern trapper" Jeff Traynor (pictured), who talks about his love for this age-old skill and its traditions. Outdoor Canada recognized the importance of trapping and why hunters need to support Canada's oldest profession. "There was some income involved, there certainly was a pursuit involved, and it's an accumulative hobby,” veteran trapper Victor Blanchette is quoted as saying. It rings true, of course; Blanchette has been trapping for 50 years and knows what he's talking about.
Need to know when to sell your furs? This handy article from Grandview Outdoors gives some tips for trappers who need to decide whether to sell or store their skins. And if you ever get a cougar stuck in a trap, here is one way to release him (pictured.) But kids, it is best not to try this at home, or outside.
Of course trapping isn't without its controversy; like most animal-related activities, there is always someone complaining. The latest uproar is about a beaver derby in Saskatchewan, which sees beavers getting trapped and their skins getting used. But activists want the derby stopped so that the beaver carcasses get left to rot in fields instead. Speaking of beavers, some residents of this community don't want the local beavers to be trapped, even though residents' homes are at risk of being flooded. They claim it is unfair for the beavers to be killed because they are only doing what "is natural to them." It would be natural to a coyote to eat your cat, or a cougar to eat your toddler. Should we let them get away with that, too?
Activists just don't get it, do they? Case in point: this story about an ostrich who was released from a circus, and who died after being hit by a car ten minutes later. Another "liberation" gone desperately wrong. What is wrong with these people? A lot, we think, especially after reading this article about an "escalation workshop" for activists. The content in there was so messed up that we decided to include it in our new column, Things Animal Rights Activists Say (pictured). Read it to hear activists showing zero compassion for humans, including sick people and suicide victims, because animals are more important, right?
And to round out the month, activists put their misguided zeal into practice on the night of April 29, "liberating" mink from a farm in Ontario. A sizeable reward has been offered for the capture of the perpetrators. Let's hope someone can claim it!
On the bright side, it was nice to hear that a store in Vancouver, Canada, who has been dealing with militant anti-fur protesters in front of its store for three years, has announced that this year has been its best ever season for Canada Goose parka sales. It warms our heart when we hear that activists' actions fail.
Ontario trappers have launched an exciting new campaign to inform the public about how they protect people and property by responsibly managing… Read More
Ontario trappers have launched an exciting new campaign to inform the public about how they protect people and property by responsibly managing wildlife populations.
“We are trying to reach that 80% of the population that simply does not know what we do or why and how we do it,” says Robin Horwath, General Manager of the Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF).
OFMF’s posters carry a bold headline stating that, "Trappers Manage Wildlife While Protecting People!" This message is accompanied by three large photos of forest land under water and a road closed by beaver flooding.
For more information, the posters direct people to the Ontario Fur Managers’ website at www.Furmanagers.com.
The campaign over Christmas featured large posters in two major Ontario malls, one in Ottawa’s Bayshore mall and one in Toronto’s The Path mall. In March, the campaign will shift to street-level advertising in Toronto and ads on six Ottawa buses.
“Last year, I saw some street-level info ads about the oil sands and I thought: that’s what we’ve got to do; we’ve got to get out there and tell our own story!”
“People are intelligent, but they can’t make the right decisions if we don’t give them the facts,” says Horwath.
Of course, a few posters will not change the world on their own, at least not immediately. But imagine if trappers’ councils across North America did the same thing!
Does trapping of wildlife endanger species? Truth About Fur asked Ryan and Minette Kole, certified nurses and trappers from British… Read More
Does trapping of wildlife endanger species? Truth About Fur asked Ryan and Minette Kole, certified nurses and trappers from British Columbia, Canada:
"That’s pretty well impossible with today’s strict, government-regulated trapping seasons and other rules.
"As trappers, our goal is to maintain stable and healthy wildlife populations; we don’t want to deplete our own resource - that would put us out of business!
"The real threat to wildlife today is not regulated hunting or trapping, it is the destruction of the wilderness areas by industrial activity - and trappers are the ones who are out there monitoring what's really happening out in the bush, sounding the alarm and working with logging companies and government to protect that natural habitat."
Wildlife experts say there are 20 times more raccoons sharing human habitation space in North America than 70 years ago…. Read More
Wildlife experts say there are 20 times more raccoons sharing human habitation space in North America than 70 years ago. In Toronto, where I live, this urban pest reportedly numbers up to 150 per square kilometre, mostly in residential neighbourhoods, not parks and ravines.
I haven’t counted for myself, but these numbers seem credible. As a resident of the “raccoon capital of the world”, I live in close quarters with these pesky masked bandits.
I have been cleaning up the aftermath of garbage bin raids since childhood. On more than one occasion I’ve had to shoo a well-fed raccoon away from the pet dish and out of my house! Battling and fixing their destruction of home and garden has cost me more time and money than I care to remember. And I learned long ago that raccoons cannot be toilet trained, so I have grown accustomed to scooping the poop left on my deck most summer mornings.
Toronto's raccoon policy, like that of the state of Ontario, is live-and-let-live. The city suggests that homeowners discourage nocturnal visits by keeping trash locked up and “raccoon proofing” fruit and vegetable gardens, which I do. But when I discovered last spring that my eaves were being used for a maternity den, it was time to seek professional advice – so I tracked down a licenced trapper.
Trappers Understand Urban Pests
Of course, there is no shortage of “pest control” companies in the raccoon capital of the world. Their services invariably involve setting cage traps to capture, move and release problem animals. Unlike licenced trappers, however, people working for these companies do not require training in the use of humane-certified traps. Yes, even cage traps can be cruel when misused.
Over the years, I have heard some real horror stories about these services. One particularly gruesome tale involved bear spray (pepper spray to most of us) that nearly blinded the unfortunate raccoon.
I am not saying that all these companies follow bad practices, but I prefer to get my advice from the best experts available. So that’s where I went.
All I wanted was the name of a reputable nuisance-wildlife control company. What the trapper provided instead was a relatively easy solution that involved no traps at all. No raccoons were stressed in the process – although my acrophobic husband was required to climb a ladder several times.
The consultation began with a lesson in “Raccoon Behaviour 101”. The trapper explained that a mother raccoon will usually have 2-3 den sites. Persuading unwanted tenants to leave is much easier when they have somewhere else to go!
He also explained that, once the cubs are a few weeks old, the whole family will leave their den as a group to get water every day. So, following the trapper’s instructions, we covered the entry hole under our roof with a piece of loose cardboard. When the cardboard was moved, we’d know they had all left to get a drink. Then – using screws, not nails that raccoons can pry out – we boarded up the hole before they returned. It worked like a charm. My unwanted house guests simply moved (hopefully not to someone else’s house) and my problem was solved.
Anti-trapping activists often complain that trappers are only interested in using lethal methods to control urban wildlife. My own experience shows that nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s no secret that fur was one of the hottest trends of the season with a presence in most major… Read More
It's no secret that fur was one of the hottest trends of the season with a presence in most major runway shows. But fur is more than just fashionable, it is also one of the most sustainably-produced natural resources on the planet. Furs such as coyote, fox, beaver and muskrat have been used for centuries to provide warmth and incredible versatility. And when these furs are used responsibly, it's not just the fashion industry that thrives, our natural environment benefits too!
Nature, like most things, requires balance. This balance today includes the coexistence of humans and animals, and the modern fur trade plays a role in helping to maintain this relationship. Without regulated trapping and hunting to manage the size of wildlife populations, many ecosystems would be drastically affected. Regulated trapping is also often necessary to protect property and natural habitat, and to protect both humans and wildlife from disease. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Leave it to Beaver!
The historical fur trade that led to the foundation of many of our towns and cities was fueled, above all, by the beaver. After more than 400 years of commercial fur trading in North America, biologists tell us that beavers are as abundant as they were when Europeans first arrived here – thanks to modern trapping regulations. However, too many beaver can be as much a problem as too few beavers. Left unmanaged, beaver populations will keep increasing until they eat themselves out of house and home.
Once vegetation is destroyed, it will take many years before beavers can return to the region. With regulated trapping, beaver populations are maintained in balance with available habitat – they are more stable and healthier. Furthermore, overabundant beavers can flood homes, roads, fields and forest habitat. Much better that we use some of what nature provides!
One of the first furs to be used for clothing by First Nations people, beaver is still widely used today by some of the top designers. Specifically, on the runway this year, Givenchy has used beaver to create a sleek bomber jacket, Haider Ackermann showed a monochrome coat while Chloé featured a spectacular beaver vest.
Coyotes get wild!
Coyotes are highly abundant across North America. They adapt well to human proximity and have profited from wolves being pushed out of much of their traditional range. Coyotes, however, can become dangerous when they are overpopulated and lose their fear of humans. In California, where I live, coyotes have been taking pet dogs and cats from backyards! They can also cause serious problems for cattle ranchers and sheep farmers when they prey on young calves and lambs. And overpopulated coyotes are more likely to spread diseases including rabies, tularemia, and hepatitis which can be transmitted to both animals and humans. Regulated trapping seasons help decrease the negative interactions between humans and wildlife – so why not make use of this remarkable natural resource?
Coyote fur, warm and dense, is great for making rugged men's jackets. It's beautiful, natural hue has also been popping up in women's accessories and shoes. And, of course, it is the favorite choice for trimming the hoods of down-filled parkas. (Fur trim on your parka hood protects your face from the cold winds of winter like nothing else!)
Think about it!
So here’s the real question: since wild furbearer populations are abundant and, in many cases, must be managed to maintain a balance with available habitat, should we kill these animals and throw them away? Or is it more respectful to use this beautiful natural material?