Selected Articles from the C.A.S.H. Courier
Summer 2004 Issue
TIME TO END A TWISTED TRADITION
By Jim Robertson,
Unless a severe blow to the head or some psychopathic
disorder has rendered them incapable of feeling empathy for others, anyone
who witnesses the harrowing ordeal suffered by an animal caught in a
leg-hold trap should be appalled and outraged that trapping is still legal
in a society that considers itself civilized. The continuation of this
horrid, outdated practice in a country governed by the people suggests that
either most folks have brain damage, or they are simply unaware of the
terrible anguish and desperation a trapped animal goes through.
They must never have heard the cries of shock and pain
when an animal first feels the steel jaws of a trap lock down onto his leg.
They must never have looked into the weary eyes of a helpless victim who has
been caught in a trap for days and nights on end. They must never have come
across a leg that an animal had chewed off in order to escape a deadly fate,
nor stopped to think how tormented and hopeless one must be to decide to
take that desperate action. And they must never have seen an animal
struggling through her life on three legs.
I have had several heart-wrenching experiences with the
gruesome evils of trapping. On a walk near our home in Eastern Washington,
my dog, Tucker, stepped into a steel-jawed, leg-hold trap that clamped down
onto his front paw, prying his toes apart. He cried out in terror and
frantically tried to shake it off, biting at the trap, at his paw, and at me
as I fought to open the jaws of the trap. It continued to cut deeper into
his tender flesh and my efforts caused him even more pain. After many
excruciatingly painful minutes, I was finally able to loosen the cruel
device enough for him to pull free.
Another dog I freed was caught in two leg-hold traps. One
was latched onto her front leg, while the second gripped her hind leg,
forcing her to remain standing for countless, interminably long hours.
Judging by how fatigued and dehydrated she was, she had been trapped there
for several days. The sinister traps caused so much damage that a vet had to
amputate one of her injured legs.
With no other hope of escape, and feeling vulnerable to
anyone that comes along, many trapped animals resort to amputating their own
leg. Trappers callously try to downplay this grim act of despair by giving
it the innocuous knick-name, “wring off.” But if they do not bleed to death
or die from infection, these animals spend the rest of their lives crippled
and possibly unable to keep up with a demanding life in the wild. Unlike the
fictional character “Little Big Man,” who was distraught to the brink of
suicide when he found that an animal had chewed off it’s leg to escape one
of his traps, most trappers who find a “wring-off” are indifferent to the
suffering they caused as they discard the chewed-off limb and mindlessly
reset their trap. In fact, some trappers boast when they trap an animal that
with “wring off” that had previously escaped another’s trap!
While we were camped near Bowron Lakes Provincial Park in
B.C., Canada early last April, my dog found just such a discarded limb--the
front leg of a lynx. In the ultimate betrayal of trust, animals protected in
parks are fair game for trapping on the lands immediately outside park
boundaries. Trappers consider those lands adjoining parks to be the most
“productive,” and will pay tens of thousands of dollars for trap-lines in
these areas. I have seen three-legged coyotes near the North Cascades
National Park, and within the Grand Tetons National Park. Though it is
considered a crime to trap inside those parks, it is perfectly legal to set
traps right outside the boundaries of these meagerly protected lands.
Sidestepping the indisputable cruelty issue, pro-trapping
factions try to perpetuate the myth that trapping is “sustainable.” But time
and again entire populations of “furbearers” are completely trapped out of
an area. The winter after I found wolf tracks in Katmai National Monument on
the Alaska Peninsula, all seven members of the pack of wolves who had found
a niche in and around that park were killed by trappers. Though they are
extinct or endangered in most of the U.S., 1,500 wolves are legally trapped
in Alaska each year.
Leg-hold traps are now banned in 88 countries, and some
enlightened states have passed voter-approved initiatives to outlaw
trapping. But in many U.S. states, as in Canada, the twisted tradition is
not only legal, it’s practically enshrined. Compassionate people everywhere
must add their voice to the rising call to end this barbarity once and for
Jim Robertson lives in Washington State. Jim is an ethical
wildlife photographer. Many animal photos are taken by people who may not
have the animal's interests in mind. Not only do unscrupulous photographers
often carelessly disrupt the lives of wildlife to get a "shot," they also
visit game farms and zoos to get close-ups of captive animals. Jim reports
seeing quite a few AR publications that have (unwittingly, he hopes) used
photos of captive animals.
Jim may be contacted at
Cash Courier Summer 2004 Issue
We welcome your comments
| About C.A.S.H. | Action
Alerts | C.A.S.H. Courier | Join | Main |
Copyright © 1997-2004 Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting