July 6, 2020

Maine's Lawsuit To Ban Trapping

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As many of you already know, Maine is being sued by the Animal Protection Institute out of California in order to ban trapping in Maine. The reason? Over the course of the last 5 years, a handful of known cases of inadvertent trapping of Canada lynx and bald eagles has occurred. These two animals are listed as endangered or threatened and are protected as such by federal law.

Of late, reports of 4 lynx and 2 eagles have been reported trapped. Of these 6 incidents, the 4 lynx and 1 eagle were released back to the wild with little or no damage done. The second eagle had to be killed because it was not going to heal. I do not know the extent of the bird’s injuries.

The Bangor Daily News is running a story and poll. The story is written by Kevin Miller who says that the animal rights people now are claiming more than ever that trapping needs to be stopped and this year’s reported incidents will fuel the lawsuit against the state.

Wildlife activists say recent reports of bald eagles and Canada lynx being caught in hunters’ traps provide additional ammunition to a lawsuit that aims to ban trapping in parts of Maine inhabited by the federally protected species.

I would like to point out one thing in Miller’s opening paragraph that whether intentional or not, brings hunting into the light of this negative report toward trapping. Miller refers to the traps as “hunters’ traps”. Why would he do that? In all my years as a Maine resident and growing up around hunting and trapping, I have never heard anyone refer to a trap used by trappers to trap fur animals as a “hunters’ trap”.

The difficulty in properly relating a story of this kind to the public comes mainly in two ways. First off, the public knows absolutely nothing about trapping. They don’t know how it is done, why it is done and have no true statistics relating the number of trappers and traps to any “inadvertent” trapping. They also are not informed as to how trapping affects the overall health of wildlife in general.

The second issue is the one we are looking at now. Media runs with a story, in which more times than not, the writer is just as uneducated about the topic as the reader. In the case of the Bangor Daily News story, the editors opted to run a poll along with the story about banning trapping. If a visitor to the paper sees the poll, more than likely they will do one of three things. They will either ignore it, vote immediately or read the attached article and then vote based on what they just read.

Yes, the paper correctly attaches a disclaimer to the poll – as if anyone reads it – that states that the poll in not scientific. It really doesn’t matter if it’s scientific or not, it serves the purpose of further inflaming the subject matter and adding a better slant to the story.

If the lawsuit accomplishes anything it should at least force the Maine Fish and Wildlife, in conjunction with the Maine Trappers Association to take a look and see if there are better ways of avoiding inadvertent trapping of all animals a trapper does not intend to trap. This would only be prudent. To ban trapping for the sake of a handful of instances would be just as irresponsible as not working harder to protect the other species.

If we were to use the same line of thinking as those who intend to banish trapping, then it would only be logical to not stop with trapping. The fish and game reported that two lynx were hit and killed by cars this year. The four that were inadvertently trapped were released unharmed. The two dead lynx, well, ended up dead. So, should we ban cars? Surely cars are obviously more lethal to endangered species than Maine’s 2,500 licensed trappers.

What further makes the Bangor Daily News story one that should have waited was not hearing from the trappers. Miller states that “A representative from the Maine Trappers Association could not be reached for comment Monday.” Maybe the story could have waited another day or two until he did talk with someone. In fairness, a representative of the suing party, the Animal Protection Institute, also was not available for comment, all the more reason not to run with the story.

It is unfortunate for all parties that this story and poll were published now. Having comment and facts from all parties would have been helpful and running a biased, unscientific poll, a tool used only to embellish a story, is also done in poor judgment.

Trapping is an essential part of the lifestyle and economy of Maine, as is hunting, fishing and all outdoor activities. Elitists use comments like; “People don’t need to trap to make a living” and “Trapping is inhumane and serves no purpose”. Little do they know that the vast number of trappers in Maine who participate, do so because they need the income. They haven’t a clue to the amount of hard work and the endless hours that have to be put into trapping. It’s what they know, therefore they use it to supplement their income. Those who think accordingly don’t know and never will. They have no true knowledge or understanding of facts and Maine life. They can only see things from their own perspectives.

Maine works extremely hard to protect its wildlife resources. This includes lynx and bald eagles. To think otherwise only shows that you are not informed. Man and wildlife have to live together. Because of that, man, in most cases the more intelligent, uses all scientific resources to ensure a balance between the livelihood of man and the health and future of our animals.

Banning trapping isn’t the answer. Using available resources to reasonably improve trapping is.

It amazes me how hypocrisy rears up when activities like trapping, hunting and fishing, don’t fit one’s lifestyle.

Tom Remington

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