Vote For Vermont Topic: The Pros And Cons Of Foothold Traps
Vote for Vermont’s Ben Kinsley and Pat McDonald hosted a new type of debate between David Kelley, Esq. and Brenna Galdenzi from Protect Our Wildlife Vermont and the Vermont Trappers Association represented by Mike Covey and Bruce Martin. The format allowed for 20 minutes for each group to respond to questions and then 10 minutes for rebuttal in response to comments from “the other side”.
Starting off the first 20-minute segment was David and Brenna. In February 2018 David Kelley wrote a commentary about leghold traps which appeared in many Vermont news outlets. David explained he grew up in a family that hunted and fished and learned to love the outdoors and have respect for its wildlife. David said that the most powerful tool against footholds is the videos posted by trappers themselves on You tube. He encouraged Vermonters to take a look and judge for themselves. Brenna Galdenzi showed pictures of animals suffering and in pain from the traps that are left for up to 24 hours and open to predation until the trappers return. She talked about her organization and how it works to create a more humane environment for wildlife.
vid noted that a recent poll conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at UVM revealed that 75 percent of Vermonters opposed leghold and body gripping traps. David hopes that someday Vermont will mirror the Colorado law which outlaws foothold and conibear traps with exceptions for public health and safety. Brenna noted the indiscriminate nature of the traps where other animals such as family pets and protected species could be trapped. Vermont’s law mandates that trappers return to their traps every 24 hours and 3 days for underwater traps.
Mike Covey and Bruce Martin from the Vermont Trappers Association talked about the use of trapped animals for food, garments, warmth and mentioned that years ago trappers were responsible for the re-introduced of populations of animals such as beavers, fishers and martins. They noted that
methods have changed and improved over the years. The Association provides education and instructions on the importance of habitat conservation. They send members to conservation camps and offer scholarships for environmental studies. The Association worked with the Department of F&W at one point to ensure that an education program was mandated before licensing. Mike and Bruce said that trapping helps to keep the balance among species. They feel that trapping is highly regulated. As an example, if a tag is missing the trapper can lose his/her license for an extended period of time. Traps can be changed to ensure their appropriateness based on the species and environment, as can the tension. Mike and Bruce noted that the Association members which totals 1,000 members (with 600 licenses issued each year) used Best Management Practices (BMP) for every fur bearing animal to minimize trauma and that in fact there is an almost scientific approach taken when placing traps. Members of the Association hold each other accountable for following the rules and BMP. If someone is doing things in an unsafe manner, they are considered poachers, not trappers.
Mike and Bruce said it was hard to quantify the economic impact of trapping. A small number of trappers sell their fur which adds to the economy although prices are currently low. Changes to the infrastructure and ecology are hard to quantify as well. Trapping is the only legal method for controlling the population of specific species especially those that only hunt at night. Mike and Bob noted that when they are on private land they have to obtain the landowners permission so the landlord has an awareness of their presence and can better protection their animals.
During the ten-minute rebuttal period, David and Brenna felt that statements about selectively are misleading because animals not being trapped can be caught in error. They disagreed with the comment that trapping is highly regulated because traps are also placed in public lands; there is no regulation for placement of traps off trails nor are trappers required to report when endangered species are caught. David and Brenna felt that the Association’s reference to Best Management Practices is more about public relations.
Mike and Bruce noted that Brenna talked about the ecosystem finding a natural way to balance the species and that humans should leave it to “mother nature”. Mike and Bruce disagreed because humans are a part of nature and can apply new technologies to help balance the species. They also noted that Brenna said trappers stomp their trapped animals to death. Mike and Bruce stated that this practice is frowned on by most members. They also said that they do not accept the negative narrative from Brenna’s non-profit and that the information provided about trapping is misleading. Many members are professionals and hard-working Vermonters and all are members of the community.
Note: Our guests discussed lots of issues and topics, not all of which are included in the above summary. If you would like to see the entire show, please go to vote802.com for this show and a complete listing of all Vote for Vermont shows.
The comments reflected in this article are opinions stated by our guests, and should not be considered the opinion or position of either VFV or Campaign for Vermont, its Staff, or its Officers. Any rebuttals are welcome and can be expressed on the websites and Facebook pages of VFV and CFV.