PETA Protests Use of Leg Traps in Rapid City, South Dakota

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a press conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, in January to protest the use of leg traps in national parks.

PETA chose Rapid City because in the summer of 2004 a number of dogs were injured by leg traps in Badlands National Park. The traps were set to capture coyotes.

Badlands National Park Superintendent William Supernaugh says that his agency regrets that dogs were caught in the traps, but that the traps are necessary to hold down the coyote population.

The Rapid City Journal reported that,

Supernaugh said those injuries mainly were the result of the Park Service’s failure to check traps quickly. He blamed shift change among personnel and an unclear policy on how often those traps should be checked. Those procedures have been tightened, Supernaugh said.

But he said banning all uses of leg traps in the Badlands would cripple the park’s program to monitor the range and health of coyotes. He said that program was crucial to the successful reintroduction of swift foxes and black-footed ferrets to the Badlands.

Coyotes prey on swift foxes, so park personnel introduced them to areas outside known coyote territories, which are determined through radio collars attached to trapped animals.

Canine distemper, Supernaugh said, could wipe out the fragile ferret population.

PETA disagrees, with Stephanie Boyles saying in a press release on the issue,

These traps are so barbaric that they have been banned in 88 countries. It is shameful that in the 21st century, a federal agency would use such primitive, cruel devices. We urge [Interior] Secretary Norton to call for a ban.


Group Calls News Conference to Reveal Shocking Photos of Dogs Caught in Leghold Traps in Badlands National Park. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 24, 2005.

PETA protests Badlands trapping. Bill Harlan, Rapid City Journal, January 26, 2005.

Activists Upset Over Maine Bear Ad, But State Says Ad Is Legal

Supporters of a ballot proposal that would ban bear trapping, baiting and hunting with dogs were upset over an ad that began running in September featuring a state biologist opposing the initiative.

The ad features Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bear biologist Jennifer Vashon. Although Vashon is not in uniform, she identifies herself as a state bear biologist with the IFW and goes on to voice her opposition to the bill. The ad goes like this,

“I’m Jennifer Vashon, the state’s bear biologist. Maine’s bear population is healthy and growing. Today we have over 23,000 black bears – one of the largest bear populations in the country. Our bear hunt is highly regulated and closely monitored by wildlife experts. But Question 2 would ban the most effective methods we use to control bears and minimize conflicts with people.” After Vashon finishes speaking, the announcer states, “That’s why Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Department strongly opposes Question 2. Vote NO on 2.”

Those supporting the ballot proposal immediately voiced their objections. Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting’s Bob Fisk complained that,

It’s a problem here in our minds. (The department) crossed the line a long time ago and because nobody is making notice of this, they continue to do it. They are not supposed to play that type of role in a referendum campaign.

The IFW responded, however, with a press release to the effect that there was nothing improper about Vashon’s appearance in the ad.

Martin stated that the department’s involvement in the bear referendum is based on science, wildlife management, and the relevant facts of the issue. Department personnel are allowed to provide scientific, historic and background information to the public, and respond to questions from the media or citizens about the issues raised in the referendum by any individual organization on any side of the referendum debate.

The advertisement features Department of Inland Fisheries Bear Biologist Jennifer Vashon providing scientific facts about Maine’s bear population. Vashon’s statements are substantiated by research that appears on the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website at .

Vashon appeared on her own time in the advertisement. The advertisements were produced and paid for by Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council, a coalition consisting of 11,000 individual donors and 600 organizations and businesses opposed to the November 2 referendum question. Vashon’s appearance is legal under state law that allows public employees to disseminate information on matters such as citizen initiatives.

The Department opposes question 2, due to the fact that passage of the referendum would severely impact the department’s ability to properly control Maine’s thriving bear population. Each year, 3,500 – 4,000 bears need to be removed from the population to keep it at 23,000, the largest bear population east of the Mississippi River and one of the largest in the country.

In a press release criticizing the ad, Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting said that Vashon had made contradictory claims earlier this year in an e-mail obtained through the state’s freedom of information act,

Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting pointed to statements made by Ms. Vashon early last year that entirely contradicts recent statements. In an email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Vashon, in correspondence with the Safari Club International, wrote, “We will not get a population explosion, especially in the span of a few years, as bears do not have the capacity to reproduce that quickly. She continued, “Many have said that our nuisance complaints will go through the roof, but nuisance bear activity depends more on year-to-year variations in natural food crops and less on the total number of bears in an area, especially since most bears in Maine live in areas with low population densities.”

Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting charges that the DIF&W is working illegally with the opponents of Question 2 by spending state resources on a referendum campaign, a violation of state and federal law.


IFW Commissioner States Advertisements Featuring Department Expert Are Legal. Press Release, September 15, 2004.

State Employees Engaging In Blatant Political Activities Should Be Taken Off The Air Immediately. Press Release, Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting, September 15, 2004.

DIFW biologist urges ‘no’ vote. Bangor Daily News, September 15, 2004.

Activists File Suit Over New York Hunting Training Courses

Several New York-based groups, including the NY Whale and Dolphin ActionLeague and the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting announced in August that they were filing a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Conservation’s offerings of hunter training courses.

The hunting courses are divided into four areas — Hunter ED, Bowhunter Ed, Trapper Ed, and Waterfowl ID — and new hunters are required to pass the appropriate course before they can be granted a license to hunt or trap in New York State.

Animal rights activists in New York have formed a new group, Coalition for the Ethical Use of Public Money, to sue the state on the grounds that providing such courses is a discriminatory use of taxpayer funds. In a press release put out by Animal Defenders of Westchester, NY Whale and Dolphin Action League director Taffy Williams said,

We find the use of public funds to train hunters and bow hunters a misuse, discriminatory and unethical management of public funds. . . also, the use of taxpayer funds for hunting-related activities is a discriminatory use of public monies, since there are no programs to benefit birdwatchers, kayakers, nature-enthusiasts, etc. The link between hunting and other forms of violence has been established in such sources as the Journal of Interpersonal Violence (B.W.Boat, June 1995) and the Purdue University Press (Child abuse, Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse, 1999).

Similarly, the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting’s president, Anne Muller, said in a press release,

Towns should be frowning upon the DEC’s practice of building wildlife populations for hunting. The Bureau of Wildlife is running a private hunting business on taxpayer money. The excise taxes on firearms, bows and arrows are insufficient to pay for their sport of killing animals. (New York State is required to match 25% of the federal excise tax that is contributed to the State.) All of the Bureau of Wildlife’s overhead costs are paid out of the general fund.

The courses at issue are free to individual hunters, and according to the DEC’s website,

New York’s Sportsman Education Programs are supported in part by Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, funded by your purchases of hunting equipment. Additional funding comes from sales of hunting and trapping licenses. Hunters and trappers pay for Sportsman Education and wildlife conservation.


Hunters under fire for abuse of taxpayer money. Press Release, Animal Defenders of Westchester, August 16, 2004.

NYS DEC Running Free Hunting Training Course. Press Release, Animal Defenders of Westchester, Undated (Accessed September 16, 2004).

Sportsman Education Classes. Press Release, New York State Department of Conservation, Accessed September 16, 2004.

Activist Pleads Not Guilty to Trespassing, Obstruction

New Jersey animal rights activist Angi Metler, 47, plead not guilty this month to charges of trespassing and obstructing a government function. Metler locked herself to a bear trap in August and police had to remove part of the cage to arrest her.

According to the New Jersey Herald, Metler and another activist with Bear Education and Resource Group visited a home that had recently been broken into by a bear. State wildlife officials had set up a trap outside the home in hopes the bear would return.

The New Jersey Herald reported that,

Words were apparently exchanged between [the homeowner] and the activists, and Metler’s solution was to jump into the cage to prevent the death of the bear, which would be killed if caught and positively identified as the problem animal.

Wildlife officials believe that one or two bears is responsible for numerous home break-ins in the area.


Caged BEAR activist ready to go to trial. Brendan Berls, New Jersey Herald, September 1, 2004.

Rodney Coronado and Journalist Formally Accused of Illegally Dismantling Trap

A federal complaint was issued this month against animal rights terrorist Rodney Coronado and Esquire journalist John Richardson who were arrested on March 24 for allegedly dismantling a mountain lion trap in Sabino Canyon, Arizona.

On March 9, 2004, the U.S. Forest Service closed Sabino Canyon and began setting traps for mountain lions after reports of aggressive lions in the area that were deemed a threat to public safety.

A trial in the case is scheduled for June 3, and Coronado and Richardson could face up to 6 months in jail if convicted.


Complaint: Writer Helped Disable Trap. Associated Press, March 10, 2004.

Activists Cause Widespread Damage to Traps Used in Badger Study

In 1998, the United Kingdom began a study designed to determine what role badgers play in transmitting bovine tuberculosis. According to a report in the Western Morning News, that study has been repeatedly disrupted by animal rights activists who have destroyed thousands of traps used in the study.

Badgers are a protected species in the UK, but the study protocol allows limited trapping and killing of badgers in areas that have been hit hard by bovine tuberculosis. Badgers can carry bovine tuberculosis but the extent to which the animals are responsible for outbreaks of the disease in the UK is hotly disputed.

According to the Western Morning News, about 5,600 badgers have been killed as part of the study since 1998.

The Western Morning News quoted an unnamed spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who said that over the last 6 years of the study, 7,882 traps have had to be repaired or replaced after being damaged by animal rights activist at a total cost of £394,000. The study itself cost £6.5 million.


Activists Damage Thousands Of Traps. Western Morning News, January 12, 2004.