To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the ad showing an injured fox caught in a leg-hold trap that was printed on the front page of the The World. While Vermonters can be proud of their hunting traditions, there are still some practices, having little to do with hunting, that are permitted and/or are commonly practiced, which are gratuitously cruel and cause needless suffering to wild animals. These practices, all of which are documented, cannot be justified by any use of the animal as a food resource or as a source of income. Indeed, these practices can easily be considered worse than cock-fighting, which was outlawed over a century and a half ago, in terms of the amount of suffering they cause.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the most abusive practices:
• Leg-hold trapping. This is the most common form of trapping in Vermont, used by both professional trappers and homeowners seeking to get rid of “nuisance” animals. Animals can be caught in such traps and held there for up to 24 hours, until the trapper arrives to dispatch the animal. If animals do escape, they are fatally maimed. The case of a fox that wandered for days with its leg caught in such a trap was recently featured on the cover of this newspaper.
• Suspending of raccoons in cages for the purpose of “training” of coon hounds. This practice is technically illegal, but is commonly used by raccoon hunters who hunt with trained hunting dogs. Numerous members of the Vermont Houndsmen Association have posted videos on their facebook page of caged raccoons suspended from trees while dogs bark at them for hours. The raccoons are usually killed afterwards.
• Underwater drowning of muskrats and beavers by aquatic trapping. A version of the “have-a-heart” style trap is set underwater, which allows a muskrat or beaver to enter, but not leave. The animals are then left to drown, which takes 20 minutes or more. This practices has been deemed inhumane by the Veterinary Association of America.
• Bow hunting of animals, who are frequently maimed but not killed and left to wander and die. These injured animals are not counted towards the hunter’s “bag limit,” while many bow hunters receive no training or supervision prior to their attempts at hunting animals.
There is something that we can all do in order to end this needless suffering of animals. Call or e-mail your state representative or senator, and ask that they support banning of leg-hold trapping and underwater drowning sets, and that the Fish and Wildlife better regulate and supervise hunting with hounds and bow hunting. Together, we can make Vermont a lot less cruel for our wild animals.