In Response: Reprehensible for newspaper to promote trapping as worthy
The News Tribune's pro-trapping story on Jan. 7, "Trapline wisdom," never mentioned the pain, suffering, and terror that innocent fur-bearing mammals experience as a result of this sick sport. The subject of the story, 19-year-old Jarid Rankila of Lake Nebagamon, admitted money doesn't play a part in his decision to trap. His primary motive for trapping seems to be to trick the animals. What a noble sentiment!
Despite the claim in the story that traps kill "almost instantly," they do cause suffering to the animals — no matter how much trappers may deny it.
Naturalist Charles Darwin didn't mince words in 1863 in the Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette: "Few men could endure to watch for five minutes an animal struggling in a trap with a crushed and torn limb. ... I know of no sight more sorrowful than that of these unoffending animals (rabbits) as they are seen in the torture grip of these traps. They sit drawn up into a little heap, as if collecting all their force of endurance to support the agony; some sit in a half torpid state induced by intense suffering. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the suffering thus endured from fear, from acute pain, maddened by thirst, and by vain attempts to escape. ... Some who reflect upon this subject for the first time will wonder how such cruelty can have been permitted to continue in this age of civilization; and no doubt if men of education saw with their own eyes what takes place under their sanction, the system would have been put an end to long ago."
Former trapper Thomas Eveland, in his 1991 book, "Jaws of Steel," wrote that, "The leghold trap is an inherently cruel device." He further stated that, "The actual pain and suffering that an individual animal goes through when caught in a trap defies description."
In the News Tribune story, Rankila mentioned that he traps aquatic mammals like mink and otter.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology and ecology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, wrote in Psychology Today in 2009, "The experience of drowning in a trap is extremely terrifying. Imagine what a dog or cat might feel. Biologists Frederick Gilbert and Norman Gofton discovered that animals display intense and violent struggling and were found to take up to four minutes for mink to die, nine minutes for muskrats to die, and ten to thirteen minutes for beavers to die. Mink have been shown to struggle frantically prior to loss of consciousness, an indication of extreme trauma. Most animals caught in aquatic traps struggle for more than three minutes before losing consciousness."
Trapping animals for sport is bad enough; but the newspaper promoting it as a worthy activity is reprehensible. Perhaps the News Tribune can run a story on the merits of dogfighting or bullbaiting.
Robin Cornell of Milwaukee is an outspoken opponent of trapping.