Wildlife groups file suit over fur trapping decision

Two wildlife groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Colorado Wildlife Commission’s decision to allow commercial and recreational box trapping of minks and martens for their fur.

The decision was made July 13 when the commission voted 5-3 in favor of a request made by the Colorado Trappers Association to hunt the two previously protected animals.

Sinapu, a Colorado wildlife protection group, said the commission’s decision goes against the state’s Amendment 14, which has set limits on animal trapping since 1996.

“The fundamental issue is whether commercial or recreational trapping should be allowed,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of Sinapu’s carnivore protection program. Sinapu and a New Mexico group, Forest Guardians, both filed the suit in Denver against the wildlife commission and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Amendment 14 banned the use of poisons and body-gripping traps on public lands, but exemptions to the amendment were made in situations where livestock and human safety were threatened.

Sinapu said the intent of the amendment was to ban all recreational trapping. The group called the Colorado Wildlife Commission’s interpretation of the law “a twisted, illegal perversion.”

Alan Nall, spokesman for the Colorado Trappers Association, said the Colorado Wildlife Commission’s decision to allow mink and marten trapping was justified.

“Nowhere in Amendment 14 does it say that all trapping should be ended. It just simply limits the tools for trappers to use,” Nall said. “I think what they’re going to find out is that the (Division of Wildlife) does have the numbers to show that there is good population of those animals.”

The lawsuit alleges the commission failed to conduct an adequate investigation and provide scientific evidence to validate its decision.

Keefover-Ring contends there has been no population study on minks or martens since the 1950s.

She said the marten is listed as a “sensitive species” by the state.

Some animals that hunters currently can trap legally include the coyote, striped skunk and bobcat.

“Basically, our stance is that there are certain animals that are going to perish anyway, whether by natural occurrence or car,” Nall said. “We want to make this available as a recreation for Colorado sportsmen.”

Martens, a relative of the mink and weasel, dwell in northern forests and prey on squirrels and birds. Martens and minks usually are hunted for their fur.

“Just as you would hunt a deer, you should be able to trap mink or marten. There’s really no difference,” Nall said, adding there are no martens to trap where he lives in Haxtun, but he might go somewhere else to try it out, if it’s still legal.

“We’ll see what happens in the courts.”
By KYLENE KIANG
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Kylene Kiang can be reached via e-mail at kkiang@gjds.com.

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