My Turn: Virus outbreak is yet another argument against trapping

For the Monitor
Published: 3/21/2020 6:00:13 AM

Recently House Bill 1504, a bill to take a look at possibly prohibiting aspects of recreational wild animal trapping, failed handily in the New Hampshire State House.

It wasn’t much of a surprise because right out of the gate the pro-trapping lobbyists and New Hampshire Fish and Game built a camouflage wall to defend fur trapping rights.

There are only a few hundred recreational trappers left in the state. Hunters, biologists and Fish and Game commissioners who have never trapped all of a sudden felt a call to arms to defend the gruesome activity.

Most of what was shared by opponents at the public hearing of the bill was about how highly regulated trapping is. Even the Democrats praised Fish and Game about what a great job they were doing regulating trappers.

Nobody ever really knows what goes on out there though, do we? I mean, we understand that animals are trapped, then they are dispatched via really whatever method the trapper sees fit to kill the helpless animal.

I have watched the videos, read the comments and seen the pictures. Most of the legislators who voted against this bill have not.

One thing that demands attention, especially now, is the question of whether it is safe what trappers are doing out there to wildlife in terms of public protection and health.

I came across this information in a paper from 2004: “Zoonoses with a wildlife reservoir represent a major public health problem, affecting all continents. Hundreds of pathogens and many different transmission modes are involved, and many factors influence the epidemiology of the various zoonoses. The importance and recognition of wildlife as a reservoir of zoonoses are increasing.”

Now we have COVID-19, which is being traced back to wildlife handling and consumption.

A very prominent New Hampshire trapper put out a social media post a couple of years ago encouraging people to eat raccoons. He has done the same regarding opossums. Needless to say, a person replied how irresponsible that was regarding disease transmission.

What is really going on is an effort by trappers to claim they utilize the whole animal, when in reality these carcasses are usually dumped. Those carcasses are just wanton waste disease beacons, with a little lead mixed in. Whether trappers consume the animals or dump the bodies, this is increasing disease transmission risks.

The most troubling issue is that these trappers are handling these animals with no protection.

One New Hampshire trapper (licensed and regulated) has his hands covered in blood holding a dead fox in a photo he proudly uploaded to social media. One of our current Fish and Game commissioners put out pictures of handling dead wildlife without hand protection, and of course the trapper that wants us to eat raccoons has handled wildlife without protection.

The notorious photos of lifting up the skin around the teeth of coyotes with bare hands to show off their canines, thus touching the animal’s saliva, are everywhere. Should we even venture into the fleshing and skinning?

Wild animals may carry diseases, but if we just leave them alone and admire them with respect, we can peacefully coexist.

In addition to trapping, perhaps we should look at all hunting methods, handling and consumption too. I love catching wild animals on trail cameras, and having foxes around or raccoons. I wrote in November about how I bonded with a red fox kit.

However, I don’t touch these animals.

Trappers kill, improperly handle, some consume them, and they skin wildlife just for recreation under the guise of conservation. We really need to ask ourselves, at what point does public risk become more important than antiquated trapping traditions?

If you need anything to sway you, there is always just how awfully cruel it is.

(Kristina Snyder lives in Chester.)

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