By Joe Miele
Got a question for Uncle Joe? You can e-mail it to [email protected] .
Would you rather snail mail your question? Send it to:
Ask Uncle Joe, c/o Wildlife Watch, Box 562, New Paltz,
Uncle Joe gets a lot of mail so don't be offended if he
cannot answer your question in the Courier. Heck, he's gotta work
a day job, too.
Dear Uncle Joe,
Trapping is an important wildlife management tool that
takes the best interests of the animals into consideration. As a
trapper, I'm proud to continue the tradition that made America what
it is today. How can you say what we're doing is wrong?
Roy - Nacogdoches, TX
Far from doing what is in the best interests of animals,
trapping does what's in *your* best interest - namely, to put a few
dollars in your pocket so you can buy another can of Skoal. Trappers
attempt to kill only animals whose fur has marketable value (though
many others die in the traps). Pick up any trapping magazine and
you will see trappers posing for pictures with their trophies. If
you truly cared about the health of the species, you'd leave the
largest and healthiest animals alone to reproduce stronger, healthier
offspring. Instead of doing that, you kill these animals and sell
their skins at auction or to a fur buyer. Where is the conservation
value in that?
You are right that trapping once played a part in making
America what it is today. But slavery also helped to build America,
and I doubt (or at least, I hope) that you would not like to see
that tradition revived. Traditions need not continue just because
they have been practiced for millennia. American Indians no longer
send their elders off to die alone in the mountains, English Kings
no longer behead their wives when they "fail" to give birth
to male children, and local law enforcement no longer locks people
in stocks and pillories for punishment. Trapping, while definitely
a "tradition," is a violent practice that should be relegated
to the history books.
Dear Uncle Joe:
Give me a break! Massachusetts outlawed trapping and
now they are having terrible trouble with beavers chopping down trees,
flooding roads and causing disease. If you allow trappers to manage
this natural resource, these problems would vanish.
Clem - Pittsfield, MA
Give *me* a break! Don't you have the ingenuity to
solve a problem without resorting to killing? I guess not, because
if you did, you would not be a trapper. In any case, there are plenty
of ways to solve the problems associated with beavers without having
to revert to your inner Neanderthal.
If you want beavers to stop gnawing on trees, you can
very easily and inexpensively put "cages" around the trees
made of sturdy 2 x 4 inch welded wire fencing. Place the fencing
around the circumference of the trees so that there is about five
to six inches between the wire and the tree bark. Make sure the wire
extends three to four feet higher than ground level. You can bury
the wire about 5 inches into the ground, or you can anchor it with
There are several different kinds of enclosures and
drainage devices that are relatively easy to build and serve the
purpose of preventing beavers from causing problems around roads
that are likely to flood. The materials needed for these contraptions
are often little more than some welded wire fencing, some wooden
posts and a PVC pipe or two.
Beavers, Wetlands and Wildlife are experts in the art
of humane beaver control. Their website lists excellent solutions
for beaver problems. Check out http://beaversww.org/solutions.html .
With a little ingenuity and a little common sense,
most, if not all wildlife associated issues can be solved without
violence and bloodshed. Give it a try one day Clem - you may be surprised
by how effective humane techniques can be – and be prepared to give
up your outmoded “tradition.”