Fur Fight! Anti-Trapping and Poisoning Initiative in Front of Court
Denver, CO. Can trappers legally box trap animals and then kill them for their fur or for trophies under Colorado’s Constitution? Conservation groups Sinapu and Forest Guardians adamantly argue that commercial and recreation trapping ended in 1996 when citizens passed Amendment 14. The state finds itself pitted against conservation groups in a legal battle. The state positioned itself to fight for trappers’ recreational and monetary rights, and against wildlife conservation or the public interest.
Larry Naves, Chief Judge of the Denver District Court, will decide on the matter following a hearing on Monday, September 10th at 9:00 am at the City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Denver, Courtroom 6.
“Ironically, if we had not eliminated most forms of trapping in Colorado in 1996, Colorado could have never reintroduced lynx—the DOW’s crown jewel conservation program,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu. “Why the state is fighting to allow trappers to cage trap and kill species is biologically troublesome, contrary to the law, inhumane, and loathsome to voters.”
“Coloradoans have much to be concerned about with regard to the actions of the Wildlife Commission,” says Susan Morath Horner, counsel for the plaintiff conservation groups. According to Ms. Horner, “At every stage of the adoption of Amendment 14 it was clear that recreational and commercial trapping of wildlife would be eliminated.”
The Commission’s decisions followed years of study showing widespread disapproval of trapping practices that were not designed to protect property. “Yet before the ink was even dry, the Commission began to quietly undermine the Amendment,” added Ms. Horner.
“In its latest move,” stated Ms. Horner, “the Commission approved the box-trapping of the animal, where the animal could be bludgeoned, drowned or suffocated for its pelts, and Coloradoans should be seriously concerned.”
In 1997, against the intent of Amendment 14, the Commission allowed box trapping of bobcats, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, and badgers. In its 2006 decision, the (then Gov. Bill Owens-appointed) Commission added minks and pine martens to the list of trappable species, prompting the lawsuit.
The state is represented by Assistant Attorney General Tim Monahan, counselor to the Colorado Wildlife Commission and the Division of Wildlife. Mr. Monahan advised the Commission that it could allow this type of a trapping. His theory is that, despite the legislative history, the Amendment does not directly eliminate commercial and recreational trapping.
“The AG’s theory does not hold up under scrutiny. The AG, the Wildlife Commission, the DOW, and even the trappers themselves have long known the true intent of Amendment 14,” stated Ms. Keefover-Ring.
Wendy Keefover-Ring | Sinapu | 303.447.8655, Ext. 1#
Susan Morath Horner | Attorney | 303.541.0055
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