Friday, December 2, 2011

Animal traps kill indiscriminately

Paul Hill lives in Stanley.


While the 2011-12 trapping season on wolves in Idaho is now reality, I strongly urge the Department of Fish and Game to consider discontinuing permission to use traps and snares for wolf hunting in future seasons, for several reasons.

First, unlike rifles and bows and arrows, traps and snares are indiscriminate killing devices that destroy any animal caught in them, be it an elk, deer, wolf, calf, sheep or family pet.

Second, unlike rifles and bows and arrows, traps and snares represent a real danger to unwary hikers and their pets when they can be placed close to often-used hiking trails (which experience has proven happens frequently).

And third, traps and snares are basically ineffective in killing wolves unless placed and set by highly experienced wolf trappers, which likely represent a miniscule percentage of those "hunters" who now will use such devices during wolf hunting season.

In short, traps and snares will not contribute in any meaningful way to managing or reducing Idaho's wolf population while, at the same time, they present significant risk to other game animals that the department is trying to support and to recreational hikers and their pets.

Recognizing that traps and snares are, and will be, part of Idaho's 2011-12 wolf hunting season, I also strongly urge the department to initiate a few simple rules to help minimize the unintended negative consequences that their use will otherwise likely cause.

First, there should be no traps or snares set anywhere within 100 yards of established hiking trails. This would seem the minimum distance needed to assure that recreational hikers and their pets are not seriously injured or killed by a poorly placed trap.

Second, highly visible signs announcing the presence of traps or snares should be required to be prominently displayed at any trailhead where traps and snares can be set. At least this will make folks who use the area for recreation aware of the dangers present.

And third, any hunter electing to use traps or snares should be required to check his devices every 24 hours so that any animal caught does not suffer excessively or for an extended period.

While there undoubtedly are other rules the department could install to insure that any trapping or snaring is done in the most responsible and humane way possible, the foregoing would seem the minimum required.

Idaho hunters now have the right to hunt wolves for a very lengthy season. They and the department owe it to those who use the same forests and meadows for nonlethal recreation to respect their right to insist that such hunting not endanger their use of the same areas or to unduly jeopardize them, their pets or the wildlife they enjoy.

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