OPINION: Trappers’ proposal certain to make fur fly

GRAND JUNCTION SENTINEL

Under the guise of performing research and gathering data that, among other wondrous things, purportedly can be used to recover endangered species, the Colorado Trapper’s Association wants to undo part of a constitutional amendment that state voters approved a decade ago.

The Colorado Wildlife Commission should soundly reject the trappers’ petition when the commission convenes in Denver today and demonstrate that trapping rules adopted by voters won’t be overturned on such flimsy pretext.

Voters in Colorado approved a ban on most trapping, including recreational trapping, with Amendment 14 in 1996. But the measure allows farmers and ranchers to conduct limited trapping under specific circumstances. And it grants an exemption for “bona fide” scientific research.

Glomming onto that exemption, the trappers’ group says it wants to be allowed to trap live animals such as swift foxes, gray foxes, weasels, pine martens, mink, ringtails, western spotted skunks and opossums. By trapping, the group says it hopes to “restart the data stream” for these species, “by providing tooth, carcass and DNA samples” to the Division of Wildlife.

It’s no surprise that opponents of the trapping petition believe the real impetus is to allow trappers to catch and kill animals and sell their pelts, and only secondarily to provide animals for research.

Fact is, there is no evidence of a compelling need to trap and kill the animals in question “to restart the data stream.” No doubt the DOW would welcome more information on foxes, weasels and pine martens, but it can acquire most of that through radio tracking and live studies. In the few cases where some animals are causing specific problems, it can allow limited live trapping to capture those animals.

There is no need for a broad, statewide exemption to accommodate recreational trappers.

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