Animal rights activists back California anti-trapping measure

Animal rights groups are supporting
Proposition 4 on California’s November 3 ballot which, if passed,
would make it “unlawful for any person, including employees of the
federal, state, county or municipal government, to use or authorize the
use of any steel-jawed leghold trap, padded or otherwise, to capture any
game mammal, fur-bearing mammal, non-game mammal, protected mammal, or
any dog or cat.” According to the initiative’s supporters,
the use of the steel leg traps is cruel.

“There’s two distinct
kind of cruelty,” said Proposition 4 supporter Aaron Medlock. “There’s
the initial impact that can cause broken bones, abrasions and swelling.
Then the second injury when the animals struggle to get out.”

On the other side of the issue
are wildlife conservationists who argue the bill will make it extremely
difficult to effectively manage wildlife. W. Dean Carrier, president of
the Western Section of the Wildlife Society, recently sent out a letter
to that group’s members urging California voters to vote against Proposition
4 for precisely that reason.

In
a report on the impact of the ban prepared for its members, the Western
Section of the Wildlife Society claimed,

Banning padded leghold traps would eliminate the most humane, selective,
and effective means of capturing non-native red foxes. Padded leghold
traps, also called “soft catch” traps, can be set to the target
species’ size and weight, thereby reducing the likelihood of capturing
pets and non-target wildlife species.

The report goes on to note
that studies of the effectiveness of various trapping methods indicate
it takes anywhere from 3 to 9 times longer to trap a red fox with a cage
trap than with a padded steel leg trap. This is a highly significant difference
that could severely impact endangered species. Again from the Wildlife
Society’s report,

In situations where foxes are preying on endangered species, wildlife
managers cannot afford the time to use less effective capture methods.
Predation must be curtailed as soon as possible. An entire colony’s
or population’s nests could be destroyed if an animal is allowed
to predate endangered birds for one or two extra nights.

Leave it to animal rights activists
to oppose an important technology in the fight to preserve endangered
species.

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