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bleeding heartWhat am I being a big old pussy about today? Trapping.

My young nephew in Missouri is a hunter. He also traps wild animals and posts photos on Facebook. Photos of coyotes, bobcats, and foxes in pain. I unfriended him yesterday in order to block those photos. That sounds pathetic and weak, but I don't know what else to do.

I grew up around hunting and fishing. I've eaten plenty of game and devoured many a trout. My father brought home venison and elk during hunting season, and I never saw anything wrong with that. Families in Alaska sustain themselves during the long winters on the moose and caribou they hunt during the fall. I'm fine with hunting ... it's senseless cruelty that bothers me.

Northeastern Montana, 1970: I'd driven from Sacramento to visit my father, who at the time commanded a small radar station near Opheim. We decided to go fishing on the Fort Peck Reservoir. After a long and successful day our guide, a local ranch hand, drove us home. On an empty stretch of road his headlights picked up a mother raccoon and several kits crossing the highway ahead. Instead of braking, our driver took aim and accelerated. We thumped over the raccoons, certainly killing the mother and probably one or two of the kits.

My father and I talked about it later. Dad said he wanted to tell the ranch hand to stop and let us out so that we could walk the rest of the way, but we were in desolate country, in pitch blackness, 20 miles from the nearest house. I felt the same way, but at the time we stayed silent. I've never forgotten my shock at the senselessness of running over those animals. But that's typical farming and ranch country behavior, and it happens everywhere, not just in northeastern Montana. All wild animals are enemies. Coyotes, foxes, badgers, rabbits, bobcats, crows, hawks, they're all to be killed on sight. Farmers and ranchers killed all the wolves, mountain lions, and bears years ago. If the law didn't prohibit it, they'd kill all the eagles too.

There are valid arguments for culling predator populations when numbers grow too large. If coyotes and bobcats were breeding out of control and attacking citizens in their front yards, snatching babies from their cribs, or even eating all of Farmer Brown's chickens, I'd say sure, set out the traps. My sister in Montana (Montana again!) sets out "humane" cage traps for wild animals, mostly raccoons (raccoons again!), who would otherwise eat everything in her vegetable garden. But what exactly is my nephew in Missouri protecting?

Here are two of the recent photos he posted to Facebook. You can click on the thumbnails to see the larger photos on Flickr.

trapper trap
Until recently, most of the photos my nephew posted to Facebook showed him kneeling next to individual coyotes, foxes, and bobcats he'd trapped. Then he posted the two you see here. The first is disturbing enough, but it's the second that repulses me. That's a steel-jawed leghold trap, the kind of trap that causes excruciating pain and terror. No, Virginia, coyotes don't gnaw their legs off in order to escape. They frantically try to pull their legs free, ripping the flesh away, pulling limbs from sockets, even breaking their own bones ... they can't pull free, but they keep trying. For hours and hours. Their pain and suffering is unimaginable.

I'm bending over backwards to be fair. My sister, the young man's mother, says he sells the pelts and is learning taxidermy, so he's not killing just to be killing. In the same spirit of fairness, I'll assume my nephew checks his traps daily. Even so, if an animal steps into one of these traps at dusk, it's going to be writhing in agony for 12 to 18 hours before my nephew shows up to shoot it in the head and put it out of its misery. Pausing even for the time it takes to shoot trophy photos of these terrified animals piles cruelty on top of cruelty.

Yes, I'm repulsed. I want to get out of the car and walk home. Call me a pussy. Call me a bleeding heart. This is wrong. And that's what's bothering me today.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And when there's no more coyotes.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, moose67

    Rabbits and squirrels and mice and other small animals over-breed.

    Until they over-run the habitat, eating everything they can, until there is no food left for them.

    And then they starve, or are forced to start eating people's gardens.

    I see this all the time in driving in rural areas near here, coyote bodies left hanging on fenceposts, killed for no reason other than being a coyote.

    I don't know if there's any way to get through the attitude that this is the right way to be. For too many rural residents, this is how it's always been, and they don't even think about it.

    Please proceed, governor

    by Senor Unoball on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 08:55:06 AM PST

    •  I have had coyotes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball

      go after my livestock, my cat, and try to take out my old german shepard. I do think about it and I shoot them if they come onto my property. It is my resposibilty to protect my animals from them.

      I do not hang coyotes from fence posts but I imagine it is done to warn the other coyotes not to come near. I know this works with crows and fruit trees.

      Luckily they have gotten the message without the help of hanging up dead things that coming here is suicide and they now go around.

      I have had trouble with someone setting traps on my land. I used to go for daily walks and spring them. Finally,  he like the coyotes, got the message.

      It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

      by PSWaterspirit on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 01:59:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've always thought those who kill for the bounty, (3+ / 0-)

    the fun, the thrill or the sport of it rather than for survival are just trying to compensate for their obvious inadequacies.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:33:28 AM PST

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