If lawmakers can’t tell the different between a saber-toothed tiger, which preyed on elephants and rhinos, and a bobcat, which eats mice and rats, it’s no wonder the Legislature passed a foolish bill to allow bobcat hunting in Illinois.
Gov. Bruce Rauner should veto the bill before lawmakers start comparing the shy, elusive bobcats to marauding dragons.
Bobcats have only recently recovered from the overhunting that put them on Illinois’ threatened species list, but they are not back in large numbers. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the Legislature from voting to allow bobcat hunting again for the first time in 40 years.
One lawmaker during the debate compared bobcats to the fearsome saber-toothed tiger. Another lawmaker called bobcats ferocious. To hear the debate, laments the Humane Society of the United States, you wouldn’t know there’s no record of a bobcat killing a human — ever.
The bobcats, though, are at risk — of being caught in leghold traps that can cause them to suffer for hours or of dying in other painful ways.
The real reason people want to hunt bobcats is because they make good trophies and their valuable spotted pelts can be sold on the international market. That’s not a good enough reason to put the species in jeopardy again. People in other countries can make their mittens out of something else.
At first the House of Representatives voted to reject this law, but then flip-flopped and passed it narrowly. They had it right the first time.
Let’s hope Gov. Rauner knows the difference between a saber-toothed tiger and a bobcat and vetoes this bill.
The numbers are shocking. Since 1996, Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned, and strangled 27 million native animals; in 2014 alone, Wildlife Services killed close to 3 million animals. That’s 7,400 animals slaughtered every single day across the U.S.— not by hunters or poachers, but by a little known government agency called USDA “Wildlife Services” whose stated mission is “to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This killing is done largely at the behest of ranchers and agribusiness. The carnage costs U.S. taxpayers more than 100 million dollars each year.
But we are holding this rogue agency accountable! In response to legal pressure from Project Coyote, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other allies, Mendocino County, CA officials recently agreed to suspend the renewal of the county’s contract with Wildlife Services pending a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). For the first time, this agency’s actions will be assessed under CEQA, requiring public disclosure of the full impact of this program on all wildlife- both target and non-target- and on the environment. Furthermore, non-lethal alternatives must be considered.
Representing our coalition, I am en route right now to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting where I will present nonlethal approaches to coexisting with wildlife. I will speak of our successful model in Marin County – known as the Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program. It works. Since implementation 15 years ago, livestock losses and costs to the county have decreased; fewer wild species have been killed. Ranchers have embraced the cost-share program that provides guard animals, better fencing and other non-lethal predator deterrents. Joining me is Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote Predator Friendly Ranching Coordinator, who will talk about some of the innovative non-lethal tools and methods we are testing on ranches in Marin and Sonoma County.
Please read this excellent op-ed in the Sac Bee by Lee M. Talbot – Stopping the Slaughter of America’s Native Wildlife, one County at a Time– and help us continue this critical work to stop the killing, reform predator management, and promote coexistence by donating to Project Coyote today. We depend on individual donors to sustain our important work for North America’s wildlife.
Missoula, Mont. (April 14, 2015) – An unlikely alliance between the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association, Footloose Montana, and In Defense of Animals is calling on Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) for more accountability in the management of mountain lions in the Big Sky State after the gruesome and horrific discovery of a severed mountain lions limb in a foothold trap. The alliance is seeking a reduction in the overall quota of mountain lions in the Bitterroot Valley, by counting trap-related injuries and deaths toward the overall hunting quota, and by holding trappers accountable.
The severed mountain lion foot was discovered around March 24 by a resident in the Bitterroot Valley. He reported deep claw marks on a nearby tree, indicating that the estimated four-year-old male lion was desperately trying to seek shelter and escape the source of pain – a foothold trap set for wolves. Thanks to recreational and commercial trapping, this mountain lion is likely dead now, either succumbing to starvation, attack by other carnivores, shock, or a painful infection of the severed limb.
The illegally set trap had no identification tag attached to it, and was placed outside the official wolf trapping season, which ended on February 28.
According to Anja Heister with In Defense of Animals, “At least 15 mountain lions have been reported to FWP as caught in traps specifically set for wolves in addition to other species over the course of two trapping seasons, between 2012 and 2014. Yet, these tragic trapping-related injuries and mortalities do not count toward the overall quota for mountain lions. They are also considered merely “incidental” and go unpunished.”
The FWP Commission meets this Wednesday, April 15 to deliberate the quota for the 2015 mountain lion hunting season and we strongly encourage them to adopt the inclusion of incidental mortalities. “There is no question that the mortality of mountain lions exceeds what the Commission allows,” said Cal Ruark, former president of the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association. “It is time to reconcile the two numbers and reduce the quota, as well as acknowledging so-called “non-target incidents” as what they are – deaths of animals, which, at a very minimum, need to be recognized and counted.”
The Commission must be empowered and do the right thing as a result of this recent disturbing discovery. The maiming and likely subsequent death of this mountain lion is not an isolated incident and the time has come to make bold changes and offer dynamic solutions in order to prevent further animals from suffering the same horrific fate.
I’ve had more than my share of heart-wrenching experiences with the gruesome evils of trapping. On a walk near our home in Eastern Washington, my dog stepped into a 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 mindless steel jaws. The trap continued to cut deeper into his tender flesh and my efforts caused him even more pain. Finally, after many harrowing minutes, I was able to loosen the torture device enough for him to pull his foot 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 untold agonizing hours. Judging by how fatigued and dehydrated she was, she had been stuck 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 label this grim act of despair “wring-off”. Truly, freedom is precious to any animal desperate enough to take this extreme step. But if they don’t bleed to death or die from infection, they spend the rest of their lives crippled and quite 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 its leg to escape one of his traps, most trappers who find a wring-off are indifferent to the suffering they caused as they begrudgingly pitch the chewed-off limb and reset their trap.
While I was camped near Bowron Lakes Provincial Park in B.C., Canada, in late March, my dog found just such a discarded limb–the front leg of a trapped lynx. In what has to be one of the more deceitful abuses of trust ever, free roaming animals– safely protected within the arbitrary boundaries of parks– lose all such protection and are deemed “fair game” for trapping as soon as they step across an invisible dividing line. Trappers consider the lands adjoining parks the most “productive” and will pay tens of thousands of dollars for permits to run trap-lines in those areas. I’ve had the displeasure of seeing three-legged coyotes near the North Cascades National Park, and within the Grand Tetons National Park.
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, often within a single season. The winter after I found wolf tracks in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, all seven members of a pack who had found a niche in and around that preserve were killed–permissibly “harvested”– by trappers. Though wolves are extinct or endangered in most of the U.S., 1,500 are legally trapped in Alaska each year.
The preceding was excerpt from the book Exposing the Big Game,
No animal should EVER go through the evil of trapping. And yet, in Montana, the Missoulian just reported that a mountain lion just got caught in a wolf trap: Mountain lion paw in wolf trap upsets Darby ex-houndsman
HAMILTON – A mountain lion paw found torn off in a wolf trap has a former houndsman from Darby asking for change in the way the state manages the predator.
A little over two weeks ago, a friend of Cal Ruark’s dropped off the trap with the severed lion paw in it.
Ruark – a former president of the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association and now a mountain lion advocate – said his friend was antler hunting in the Reimel Creek area, east of the Sula Ranger District, when he made the gruesome find.
The man told Ruark there were deep claw marks in a tree near the location of the trap.
“He told me the trees were all tore to hell,” Ruark said. “The drag on the trap was hung up on a tree and there were claw marks on the trees where the lion had stood up on its back legs and tried to climb.”
Ruark is sure the mountain lion didn’t survive.
“It might have been able to get along for a little while, but it’s dead now,” he said. “It can’t hunt on three legs.”
Every year, mountain lions die after being caught in traps set for wolves or other furbearers.
Under the current rules, those dead lions are not considered under the quota system that Fish, Wildlife and Parks uses to manage mountain lion numbers.
Ruark believes that needs to change. He will take that request before the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its regular meeting this month.
KC York of Hamilton is leading an effort place a referendum on the ballot that could ban all trapping on public lands.
York said between October 2013 and February 2015, 32 mountain lions were captured in traps set for furbearers other than wolves. State records showed that 21 died, six suffered some type of damage to their paws, but were released and another five were set free unharmed.
“So 84 percent of those mountain lions captured in non-wolf sets were either dead or injured,” York said. “Only one of those trappings was determined to be illegal.”
In the two years that wolf trapping has been legal in Montana, York said state FWP records show that 16 mountain lions were caught in traps set for wolves. Five of those lions died.
York said 96 percent of the trappings were considered legal.
“You can’t legally trap a mountain lion in Montana,” she said. “These trappings are considered incidental. It goes with the territory of trapping in this state.”
Anja Heister, co-founder of Footloose Montana, said no one knows for sure how often a mountain lion loses a paw or toes to a trap.
“It was a horrific sight,” Heister said about the lion’s paw in the trap. “This was an incident that was actually discovered. No one knows for sure how often it happens. Trappers have a term for it when an animal loses a foot or a toe. They call it twist off or ring off.”
The Ravalli Republic contacted Montana Trapping Association president Toby Walrath of Corvallis for a comment on this story. Walrath said he would either provide a written comment or a phone contact for someone else in the organization Thursday night. By Friday’s end, the newspaper had received neither.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional wildlife manager Mike Thompson said all he could say about the issue at this point is that it was being investigated.
Ruark said he wants people to know about this.
“There are a lot of people who should be angry about this lion caught in a wolf trap,” Ruark said. “Trappers should be mad because it makes them look bad. Outfitters should be thoroughly angry because they get $5,000 a pop from their clients to kill one and now there’s one less to hunt. The fact that it’s not counted toward the quota should make local houndsmen angry, too. Everyone involved should be upset.
“But unless there’s a consequence, it’s only going to get worse,” he said. “It’s not right to ignore it when a mountain lion dies.”
If someone put all the mountain lions that died after being trapped in a pile and took a photograph, Ruark said people would pay attention.
“From my perspective, these incidental kills should be counted,” he said.
This Bald Eagle Was Found In A Trap. Now She’s Finally Flying Free.
courtesy Jordan Spyke
Jordan Spyke, assistant director of the Montana Raptor Conservation Center (MRCC), told The Huffington Post that bald eagles can easily be lured by baited traps as they scavenge for food on the ground.
Fortunately, someone in Fort Belknap, Montana found the bird in the trap before she starved to death. On March 2, she became “Patient 14-15″ at MRCC.
“We don’t name any of our birds,” Spyke explained. “We don’t want to get attached to them or anything like that.”
Blood tests revealed that this bald eagle had elevated lead levels, likely from eating spent shot left by hunters. The trap had cut off circulation to her foot, so her toe had to be amputated. A local vet performed the surgery.
Spyke and his team also treated the bird to remove the lead from her system. She was given flight therapy in their customized flight barn, the only such facility in Montana.
After a month of careful treatment, she was ready to return to the wild.
On April 1, the MRCC team put the eagle into a large crate and loaded her into their “raptor van” for the ride to the Headwaters National Park. As volunteers held the crate door open, the eagle’s eyes slowly adjusted to the light. The spectators made her nervous, they said, but she flew out and was on her way.
Spyke said releasing the bird after the “double whammy” of an amputation and lead poisoning “feels pretty great.” He said the eagle seemed happy to stretch her nearly 8-foot wingspan, too.
“It flew great,” Spyke recalls. “It came up with wings open, got the wind, and barreled out of there.”
MRCC treats about 180 raptors a year, Spyke said, many for severe injuries from gunshots, electrocution and car collisions. The center is able to rehabilitate and release about 40 percent of its patients.
After nearly disappearing in the 1960s, the American Bald Eagle population has returned to healthy levels thanks to decades of conservation efforts. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service removed them from the endangered species
On April 7, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) House Committee will vote on SB 334, and your voice is urgently needed to defeat this detrimental and deceptive bill aimed at furthering the interests of the Montana’s recreational and commercial trappers and fur dealers.
SB 334 seeks to include furbearing animals under the term “game” animal. This means that the word ‘trapping’would no longer be used, and trapping is then completely subsumed under “hunting” in a sneaky effort to hide a cruel and unnecessary activity that is generally abhorred by the public.
SB 334 would also add three animal species, currently categorized as non-game species—badgers, raccoons and red foxes—to species currently classified as “predators”, so that a fur dealer in Montana could then buy and sell the pelts from these species.
SB 334 was introduced by Rep. Jennifer Fielder, who is on the board of the Sanders County Resource Council, which serves as a front group for militia activity, and she is a strong proponent of transferring federally managed public lands to the state so that privatization and exploitation can ensue. Her husband, Paul Fielder, is a district director of the Montana Trapper Association (MTA), who is heavily lobbying for this bill.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.
About the Letter
Over the past few years, a rising demand for bobcat pelts in China and Russia has driven up fur prices and caused a boom in bobcat trapping in California. As a result, trappers have been targeting the boundaries of national parks, luring the cats out of these safe havens and into their deadly snares and cages. The California legislature passed the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 to protect our parks and wildlife from such commercial exploits. Yet the problem continues because trapping continues in other parts of the state and because the law has yet to be truly enforced.
The California Fish and Game Commission is tasked with this rule making, and one option it is now seriously considering is a statewide ban on all bobcat trapping. But the commission will only choose that option if it hears loud and clear that we value our wildlife alive—not trapped, killed, skinned, and exported to be worn as fur coats in Moscow or Beijing.
Take action—urge the commission to protect these ecologically important California natives by banning all bobcat trapping throughout the state.
ACTION ALERT: Do you have a story about a dog caught in a trap or snare even if it was not your dog? Many animals, including dogs, are unintentionally brutally killed or injured in snares. Contact Governor Dayton, share your story, ask him to eliminate wildlife snaring.
Gov. Dayton phone #: 651-201-3400, toll-free: 800-657-3717
Gov. Dayton contact form: http://bit.ly/1EDwQgh
Please share your story with us. It may be used to pass legislation. Email: email@example.com
Bill in Legislature tries to save dogs from accidental trappings
by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
- March 18, 2015 – 10:27 AM
Dogs continue to be trap victims, and a controversial bill in the Legislature aims to change that
“It was like she just disappeared,” Nordby recalled this week.
She and her husband, Daren, and three kids searched, called neighbors and then authorities, fearing their hunting dog had been stolen. That night, the family hand-fed Lily’s puppies to keep them alive.
Rosie Nordby found Lily the next day, dead in a body-gripping trap set in a ditch about 750 feet from her family’s house.
Lily was one of at least 34 dogs caught accidentally in traps in Minnesota last year and among five that were killed. Since 2012, the Department of Natural Resources says 75 dogs have been caught in traps and snares, and 17 died. A group pushing for trapping restrictions claims at least 25 dogs have been killed during that time.
The issue, which gained attention in 2012 when the Legislature tightened some trapping restrictions in response to dog deaths, is again being scrutinized. A bill was introduced this session that further stiffens trapping regulations to reduce or eliminate accidental dog deaths.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration has testified in support of the measure.
Supporters say the changes made three years ago haven’t stopped the accidental trapping of dogs.
“We need to do something so our pets don’t get killed anymore,” said Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, author of the bill.
The Minnesota Trappers Association and the Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association both oppose the measure, saying the proposals would greatly limit the effectiveness of trappers.
“Trappers want this issue to go away more than anyone,” Gary Leistico, an attorney representing the Minnesota Trappers Association, testified Tuesday at a Senate hearing in St. Paul. “We’ll continue to work with everyone, but this bill … does much more than what it’s claimed to do. It would not allow meaningful trapping in Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association also opposes the bill, as does Michael Tucker, who runs a wildlife removal service and is a member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. Tucker told legislators the bill would severely limit the ability of businesses like his to remove problem animals.
Trappers reduce predators of ground-nesting game birds, such as raccoons, skunks, mink, fox and coyotes, the groups say.
And a section in Hoffman’s bill requiring body-gripping traps used near water to be fully submerged would greatly reduce the taking of beavers, who cause damage to culverts and roads around the northern half the state, opponents say.
“You’re taking away the most effective way to trap beaver,” said Randy Goldenman of Zimmerman, who traps beaver for Sherburne County. “I catch up to 200 a year.”
Hoffman says his bill isn’t meant to be anti-trapping and wouldn’t inhibit trapping. “It will just make it safer for dogs and our pets,” he said.
The issue is an emotional one and drew impassioned testimony. Among those testifying in support was a handler for a search-and-rescue dog, the executive director of a Cloquet animal shelter that took in a dog injured in a trap and several hunters.
Loren Waalkens of Lake City, whose beagle, Frisbee, was caught in a body-grip trap in 2011, pleaded with senators to tighten regulations. Though he saved his dog with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he said Frisbee now has breathing problems related to the incident.
And Waalkens said when he hunts rabbits he’s constantly concerned his dogs will encounter another trap. “It’s taken the joy of hunting from me,” he said. “Please do something about this.”
Kurt Boerner, an upland bird hunter from Wayzata, said his English setter had a close encounter with a trap, and since then he’s been on a quest to tighten trapping laws. He’s quit hunting when trapping season begins and told outstate friends not to come to Minnesota to hunt during trapping season.
“The problem isn’t trappers, it’s the regulations,” he testified.
Tim McCauley of Fridley is a board member of Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN, which has pushed for tighter trapping laws, too. He no longer hunts public lands in Minnesota during the trapping season, either, for fear of losing a dog.
“I won’t take the risk,” he said in an interview. “It would ruin my life if I lost my dog.”
Restrictions passed in 2012 require trappers to use a 7-inch overhang when using baited body-gripping traps on public lands. The overhang is intended to prevent dogs from sticking their heads in the trap to reach the bait.
Trapping proponents say the restriction is working. But the DNR reports that since 2012, 15 dogs have been trapped in boxes with overhangs.
Rosie Nordby’s dog was caught in a body-grip trap recessed in a box. The trap was recessed 6 inches, meaning it wasn’t legal. Two of the five dog deaths in 2014 were in illegally set traps.
Some, including DNR officials, say even if the recess had been a legal 7 inches, it probably wouldn’t have saved Lily because of the trap’s location. Meanwhile, the trapper was cited.
“The fine was a whopping $100,” Nordby said.