“Any society allows you to agree with the government. A free society allows you to disagree fundamentally.” ~ I.F. Stone, “Con Games”
To equalize fair citizen participation, I propose that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources establish laws encouraging citizens to dig up trees and plants and take live animals from our public lands without limit, with a $5 annual “gatherer” license incentive. Citizens can start a small nursery business of indigenous plants and trees or a live indigenous animal center to re-populate empty Wisconsin woods.
The season would not have to interrupt the $5 licenses sold to new trappers for indiscriminate killing of wildlife. Their $5 season spans mid-October through March in the south, into April birthing seasons up north. It would be appropriate to have live animal trapping after birthing seasons in March/April and plants and trees taken during spring re-growth of new vegetation through fall.
As equal citizens, we should all be able to use our public lands for equal enterprise and private profit opportunities.
Trapping is the only private for-profit business of indiscriminate exploitation currently allowed on our publicly purchased lands. With this new proposal, the majority who want to experience living wildlife could start private businesses and buy back living systems to reboot life in their own communities. This would create outdoor opportunities to teach children to gather from the public lands. After all, gathering (hunting/gathering) is historic tradition and our right.
Democracy is only served with equal treatment under the law.
The United States traps more animals for the fur trade than any other country in the world. According to Born Free, 3-5 million animals are trapped and sold for profit annually. Born Free points out that “most are clubbed or suffocated to death as bullet holes and blood stains reduce the pelts’ value.”
In Wisconsin, 2,200 new trappers were recruited in 2013 and another 2,041 trappers were recruited in 2014 with new trapper $5 incentive licenses. Youth under age 15 (no age restrictions) have a $10 license. A regular license costs $20. Over 10,500 trappers actively trapped in 2014.
Gatherers deserve similar rights.
In addition to the estimated 435,694 animals trapped in Wisconsin last year, mostly from our public lands, another half-million were collateral damage. They had poor fur quality, were too young or old, rotted in traps, or were birds of prey, water birds or pets — all dispatched as trash animals. Additionally, 25,544 beavers (ever on the decline) were estimated killed along with 1,267 beavers removed from stocked “trout streams,” and 1,200 beaver dams were removed in 2013 — 150 to 200 of them dynamited.
Russia is the main market for furs, and fur prices fell with the tough Russian economy last year. Average prices were: bobcat, $97; fox, $21-$34 (fox trapping seen in this short video); raccoon, $6-$16; mink, $18; coyote, $23; otter $64; skunk and weasel just a couple of dollars each. Such low value placed on our suffering wildlife and the destruction of our commons.
A current petition to end the use of snares, conibear and steel jaw traps in the United States is gaining support. The author of the petition, Kathleen Buchanan, emailed that she was motivated by a dog named Cub. “In February, he was discovered along a country road in New Mexico, half his body riddled with shotgun pellets, hobbling upon the exposed ends of bones where his hind legs once were — injuries consistent with a leghold trap.” Additional research reported by Stephen Messenger revealed that 2.7 million wild animals were killed by the federal Department of Agriculture’s agents and contractors last year — “7,400 animals every single day.”
Trapping is described as a “steady growth” job opportunity. Fewer than 150,000 people trap in this country — 0.0004 percent of the population.
The general gross imbalance of power is clearly shown by comments against a commercial bobcat fur farm recently proposed in Montana. 21,185 comments came in from Montana, around the country, and all over the world. 21,165 of them were against the fur farm and 20 supported it. The fur farm was approved.
Despite over half the world’s wildlife being destroyed in just 40 years, state agencies are accelerating ecosystem destruction through market trapping and trapper recruitment. In the 1800s there was much more wildlife and fewer trappers, yet market trapping threatened extinctions even then.
Wisconsin is now a hotbed of lyme disease because foxes and bobcats, raccoons and coyotes are being trapped out. Mice populations are exploding. They carry the tick life cycle. With wolves and coyotes declining, chronic wasting disease is already in 25 percent of the 2-year-old bucks. State policies are destroying nature’s balance to serve the narrow interests of hunters, trappers and hounders.
We are directly related to other beings who have learned how to live here naturally, in harmony, over millions of years. We must feel this connection and move from knowing we are doing something wrong to doing something about it. We need to protect their lives with our own. We depend on them. They depend on us.
We have failed them for too long.
Citizens can sign and network a petition to Rep. Chris Taylor to author legislation and gather support from other Wisconsin legislators to end trapping entitlement on our public lands or open them to all citizens for gathering under similar terms.
Let’s get it done.
Please call your federal representative to co-sponsor and support the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S. 1081).