I Feel Like I'm Taking Crazy Pills!
I have been diligently gearing up new tutorials and how-to’s for the blog here in my deep winter trapping hiatus. I will admit I have been immensely pre-occupied with other underlying issues here in the Granite State in regards to recent trapping news, and trapping perception in general for that matter. The unfortunate reality is that while I attempt to devote my time promoting sensible, modern trapping; I have spent much more time defending it. You know where I’m headed with this – yes, another anti-trapping rant! I will say that this one comes with some strong merit, as the comments and opinions I have been browsing through on local newspaper articles and social media has lit up a fire inside of me so “red hot” I don’t think the 13-foot snow banks in the driveway could put it out. A good chunk of the current “input” (or drivel as I see it) stems from the state’s proposition to possibly entertain a bobcat hunting and trapping season.
For many years in New Hampshire, harvesting of bobcats was called off to allow a population rebound in the 1980's. The state, mind you, that many of these misinformed souls now claim “doesn’t care about animals, and is only out to make money” - crazy, I know. It gets better. Trappers from around the state were called upon to assist NH Fish and Game with these extensive studies; assistance that was provided void of any reward other than the opportunity to better understand these interesting critters. These facts were presented, and instead of being met with the understanding that SCIENCE and educated biologists support trapping in the state, I in turn see comments suggesting “science doesn’t matter, it’s about money for the state.”
I seriously feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Did I just walk into the twilight zone? Or better yet some poorly portrayed fictional rerun of a Disney cartoon? There was a time in this state where anti-trapping agendas and “animal rights” advocacy groups were rarely heard from – people lived in rural New Hampshire and lived off the land with a “Live Free or Die” mentality that suggested “even if I don’t partake in what you do, you have the right to do it so long as it doesn’t infringe upon me”. This state has always held a “roll up your sleeves and do it yourself” frame of mind with just about everything. I think this is where the majority of my frustrations lie with the recent squawking over a proposed bobcat season. While I think the vast majority of this state could really give a plug nickel’s worth of concern over a REGULATED species harvest, I think there is a small, yet growing group of “bad doobies” who perform a quick and uneducated Google search of “animal trapping”, and suddenly get all fired up about something that they, in reality, know little to nothing about. Kind of sounds like just about everyone on the internet doesn’t it? How can someone call my practices barbaric, throw science and education out the window, and even call for me to be killed over something that they themselves have never taken part in?
The long-line trappers and friends who have been dealing with this garbage for generations suggest I’m beating a dead horse. In an age where the internet has given everyone a voice, I think it’s high time some folks start hearing mine - a reason why this website stands before you. Some of you reading this in other parts of the country may be thinking to yourself “why is he so bent out of shape about a small fraction of public opinion?” New Hampshire is a pretty small land mass in comparison; I can drive from one end of the state to the other in less than two hours – and that’s at her widest part. As the state becomes more densely populated, it becomes imperative to ensure that a well-informed public is attained. If I could set up a booth at the border and greet every newcomer, I think I would – “Welcome to New Hampshire, we hunt and trap wild critters here, and have for centuries; if you can’t handle it, turn your Mercedes around and head back on down the MassPike.”
To add to the already blazing fire, some hunters have jumped into the mix stating that while they think deer hunting is perfectly fine, trapping is “barbaric and cruel”. There’s nothing quite like being stabbed in the back by those who claim to be pro-outdoorsmen – the same individuals who will promote conservation and outdoor practices one day, only to thumb their noses at it the next. Many of the traps I use will dispatch an animal quicker than a bullet – I know this because I am familiar with my tools and I know how they operate; I don’t need your input to tell me how they work. Just because your “Great Grand-pappy” had a bear trap hanging on the wall of his ski lodge doesn’t give you the right to claim the title as a trapping expert. For those so-called “sportsmen” who would dispute the fact that trapping is an integral part of wildlife conservation, I suggest you step away from your Duck Dynasty reruns and retake your hunter’s education course to better understand how wildlife management works. The sad truth is that while you support to eliminate my way of life, you’re next to stand in the cross-hairs of the same chuckleheads who constantly petition trapping. It’s one thing to defend my practices against those with an agenda, it’s another to have to defend it from those who claim to be part of conservation heritage – you should be stripped of your hunting licenses and sentenced to a life of tofu burgers and watercress tea sandwiches!
Then there are animal rights groups with their same old playbook – “killing animals is wrong”, “fur is murder”, we all know the drill. I don’t think I would have a lot of grief against these groups if they didn’t lump my trapping practices in with images of Chinese street workers skinning domestic dogs alive. Nothing gets your point across quite like something else that's completely irrelevant.
However, I’ll give credit where credit is due, as these groups here in New Hampshire have added a new page to the dusty old “anti-hunting bible”. The new, “hip” trend for these groups is to bring forward their own crop of supposed “ecologists” to speak out about the fact that things like conservation, carrying capacity, and traditional wildlife management are perceived as “archaic and outdated”. Perhaps these folks studied abroad where cartoon blue birds tied ribbons in their hair whilst skunks and bunnies sang “Kumbaya”. Say what you must I suppose; For every self-proclaimed “ecologist” they present, I have 200 more that would fully agree that regulated trapping is beneficial to wildlife populations. Period. If their claims held any merit, there wouldn’t be any wild animals left across the board – because last I checked trapping is a legal practice across the country, and has been since the dawn of this country’s birth. I double checked this past trapping season – we still have healthy populations over here, and we monitor these populations with trapper-furnished data.
I seriously feel like John Proctor in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials, waiting for the day when these activists come marching up my driveway with pitchforks and torches in tow. The whole anti-trapping movement is nothing more than a lynch mob with an axe to grind against animal harvest of any kind, duping and accumulating an ignorant and logic-less audience of grocery store meat shoppers along the way. It’s madness! I wish I could go back ten or twenty years, when trappers in New Hampshire weren’t constantly looking over our shoulders or giving 20 minute long conservation speeches to every anti-hunter who lacks a sense of predator/prey models, or for that matter, reality. Have we seriously reached a point where we have collectively allowed our “emotional feels” to take hold over what’s right for our natural resources?
I thank my lucky stars every day for organizations like Fur Takers of America, and the US Sportsman’s Alliance. Groups that I know mutually share in the constant madness trappers are subjected to. Are there bad trappers out there? Sure, just like there’s bad hunters, anglers, drunk drivers and rapists. I know I’ve made this point a thousand times but do the actions of a few really mean all of us must pay the price? The bottom line: my practices have the backing of every Fish and Game department in the country, as well as countless biologists and scientists whose true passion and focus is in the conservation of all wildlife species as a whole. Once you cast out science and rational thought, you have to start to ask yourself how far down the rabbit hole you really want to fall before you come to your senses and realize the undeniable truth. Trapping of fur-bearing animals in the modern world is a proven method of wildlife management, sustainability and conservation. Fact.
As a final thought, I think that despite the disconnect, it is imperative that we, as conservationists continue to convey the truth that trapping is a humane and sound piece of the wildlife management puzzle. I’m not out doing what I do to “harass” wild animals. Nor am I out here for a “trophy” or to solely make a “profit” off of the animals I target. I have a deep seeded passion and respect for the animals I track, my drive and intent is to see humane, common-sense based regulated trapping continue on in the wild spaces of this great land for generations to come. Stay safe in the woods brothers and sisters.