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GUEST COMMENTARY: Reader takes issue with anti-trapping column

May 10, 2019
By BILL ULINSKI , Lake Placid News

(Editor's note: The following commentary was written in response to Annoel Krider's Our Animals, Ourselves column published in the April 26 issue of the News with the headline, "Ban traps, all of them.")


I agree with Ms. Krider that traps and trapping must be humane. Trapping must be regulated by agencies with a thorough knowledge to safeguard wildlife, people and domestic animals. Trappers also agree and support her concerns. Unfortunately, her article presented incorrect and outdated information.

I began trapping over 60 years ago. I haven't trapped continuously for this period, but have worked for two state conservation agencies in forest recreation. My work enabled me to be close to fish and game activities including trapping. I have trapped in northern New England and New York state, including this region. I have been fortunate to have worked in various forest environments and continue to life in my favorite area. My experience, work and education have provided me with a better than average knowledge of what I refer to as "what's out there and going on," that's why I share Ms. Krider's concerns.

The percent she states for non-target catches needs to be researched, it's extremely high. The figures I have seen are less than 5% and include starving wildlife, abandoned and uncontrolled pets. Sadly the incident regarding the dog caught in the trap should have been avoided. An out-of-state trapper was in a no trapping area and the dog should have been under control. Owners, by law, must have their pets under control at all times while on all state lands.

New trap setting regulations were established because of that incident and were welcomed by trappers. The 100 foot distance pertains to public and private buildings and not trails or paths. Trappers want to go where the animals travel and not where humans and pets might frequent. Traps must be checked within a certain number of hours by law. This depends on the region and whether the trap is on land or in the water. The steel foot hold traps are being replaced by foot snares.

The use of the conibear type trap is regulated by size, where it can be set and how secured. Many trappers are using Canadian traps. Canadian traps have to be certified by the "Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards." This was brought about by the European countries that process the world's furs, including most Canadian furs. England Scotland and Wales are now applying these regulations to trapping.

The use of fur by many cultures is considered a renewable resource. Faux furs are made from acrylic polymers made from chemicals derived from coal, petroleum and limestone with toxic byproducts.

Our Fish and Game Departments are constantly working to sustain our wildlife populations and improve humane trapping methods. Carcasses, teeth and hair samples are collected from the catches of trappers and undergo scientific analysis. Analysis reveals age, health, reproduction history and the condition of their habitat. I also have worked as a volunteer maintaining cameras and live traps at bait stations in fur bearer study programs.

I respect the people that reject the harvesting of wildlife. Their lifestyle, religion and other factors determine their values. We all appreciate "Mother Nature" and marvel at her beauty. She can also be viewed at times as cruel and violent. Most furbearers kill other wildlife for food.

Let's view trapping from another prospective. In recent years the nuisance trapper has emerged, the trapper hired to remove animals creating problems. They are hired to remove raccoons from attics, skunks in basements, fox and fishers killing chickens or possibly coyotes destroying sheep. They charge a fee and the animal is destroyed, it can't be relocated for fear of rabies, mange, distemper or some other type of disease that it may be carrying.

Normally this unwanted critter's invasion is a result of a food or shelter shortage and sometimes a disease. These are a result of over populations, why? Many causes lead directly to human actions. Wildlife need two basic things, food and shelter. If wildlife have both their populations increase, they expand their home range to survive and that's when problems may occur. If their populations go uncontrolled, no hunting or trapping, then disease may develop, more road kill is evident. What ever the causes, the result is a conflict between man and wildlife.

A book that I suggest anyone interested in wildlife, outdoor recreation, the environment, read is entitled Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. He wrote for the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His writing includes a bit about our DEC as well as other areas of the U.S.. He also trapped as a youth.

Trappers share the concerns Ms. Krider has and other environmental issues. It's interesting to note that years ago trappers noticed changes in the climate, weather and wildlife habits. We all have issues that we are sensitive about. The warming of our environment is my major concern having seen the accelerated melting on my canoe trips in the Canadian north. If warming is not prevented or slowed all else is secondary.


(Bill Ulinski lives in Lake Placid.)



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