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CASH Courier > 2002 Spring / Summer Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier
From the Spring / Summer 2002 Issue

TRAPPED BY FISH AND WILDLIFE LAW - 11-0111

BY MARLIESE VARGA

There is an undeveloped, untouched tract of land on the east side of Theills Mount Ivy Road belonging to the Town of Haverstraw in Rockland County New York. Winding its way through these woods, and accenting their beauty, is a wide shallow stretch of the Minisceongo Creek on its way to the Hudson River.

It is another world, a totally wild place about 60 acres beginning from my perspective, downhill from a well-traveled road and a parking lot. A place where all kinds of small animals are drawn to gather and drink, as nature would have it at a woodland stream unmolested by human activity, or so I thought. It was by accident that the day I came here to release two young squirrels I'd raised was the same day that a tall, gangly gentleman wearing hip boots and carrying a sack and club was walking uphill from the creek to his pickup truck in the parking lot. When he left, I walked down the hill and followed the creek for a half mile before I found, along the edge of the water first one, then two, three and four large open black plastic buckets laying on their sides. At the closed end had been placed an open can of corn and something directly in front of that called a conibear trap, which is an offshoot of the leghold trap. Theoretically, the conibear trap is supposed to kill instantly, snapping around and crushing the “fur bearer's” body before he gets to taste the first kernel of corn. Realistically, if the furred creature is not the precise size, or doesn't enter the bucket in a precise manner, the trap may simply snap off the front half of its face.. I couldn't help thinking, how could a nice town like Haverstraw provide for the sport of golf on the Phil Rotella course while directly across the road, within a stone's throw, allow the sport of crushing bones and bashing heads. This was worth verifying. So I called the town police who startlingly told me there wasn't any trapping allowed in the Town of Haverstraw. Aha! Armed with this information, I confiscated the four traps along with a skinned animal’s body that had been used in place of the corn as bait in one of the larger buckets. (Recycling takes many forms.) Next I called the local conservation officer. That's "conservation" as in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The officer came to my home immediately and:

1) Identified the owner of the traps by a tiny 1/8 inch metal name plate that I had overlooked.

2) Identified the skinned body as that of a Gray fox.

3) Informed me that I had acted illegally and the owner of the traps may decide to press charges against me since no township or county legislative body has the power to ban the state sanctioned activity of trapping according to DEC Fish and Wildlife Law 11-0111.

What seems apparent is that the DEC, through introduced bills and subsequent laws, has so systematically wrested control of our wildlife that it has rendered the majority of citizens and local community governments powerless in this area.

In Rockland County, pet owners far outweigh individuals in hip boots setting wildlife torture traps, so that someone's cat is just as likely as a Gray fox to meet its maker in the bottom of a black bucket. For that reason, in 1987 Suffolk County New York took the initiative to ban leghold trapping in its community. The ban was overturned in a challenge from the DEC a year later. This is the very same agency that will be soliciting you again this year for donations under the catchy phrase, "Return a Gift to Wildlife," the very same agency whose primary agenda and source of revenue is based on the exploitation and killing of wildlife.

MARLIESE VARGA CAN BE REACHED THROUGH C.A.S.H., POB 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561.

Editor’s Note: Return a Gift to Wildlife (RAGTW) money is used in part to “educate” school children about the pleasures of hunting and trapping. Until that changes, we recommend against this check-off on your state income tax forms.

Marlise Varga

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