Trappers Group Pushes for Box Traps

When the Colorado Wildlife Commission meets today in Fort Collins, it will consider an important request from Colorado trappers  one that will pit animal-rights advocates against those who make a living skinning animals.

Earlier this year, the Colorado Trappers Association asked the Colorado Division of Wildlife and its commissioners to allow them to begin trapping nine furbearing species that are off-limits. The species include mink, marten, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel (ermine), swift fox, opossum, gray fox, ringtails and western spotted skunk.

Since 1996, trappers couldnt ensnare the species because of a 1996 ballot initiative that Colorado voters passed with a 50 percent majority. The initiative  Amendment 14  banned the use of leghold traps, instant-kill body-gripping traps, poisons, and snares. It does allow for a few exemptions. What the amendment didnt include are box traps  essentially cages with bait.

Though box-trapping doesnt specifically violate the amendment, opponents say it violates the spirit of it, particularly since the majority of Colorado voters chose to reject the use of inhumane trapping methods.

They are basically driving a Mac truck through a loophole, says Wendy Keefover-Ring, carnivore protection director for wildlife protection group Sinapu, based in Boulder.

Sinapu and 13 other conservation groups, including the San Juan Citizens Alliance, have gone on record in opposition to the request by trappers. In an

information packet prepared for the commissioners meeting today, 338 of the 341 letters included oppose the petition to allow trapping the furbearing species.

Keefover-Ring says the problem with the request, among other things, is that the DOW has not done an adequate biological analysis of the effects of trapping the species. She says the agency does not have enough biological data about how vulnerable species are to trapping, as well as the impact of the population of each animal and their importance in the ecosystem.

What particularly rankles the conservation groups is the change in reaction by the DOW. Initially, DOW officials recommended that the commissioners deny the request. But after the public-commenting period, the division advanced an alternative that would analyze each species economic value, amount of damage it causes and whether it is designated as sensitive or of special concern.

The way we see it, said Keefover-Ring, the DOW is willing to squander animals to be turned into pelts.

Amy Maestas
Durango Telegraph
7/13/06
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