America’s trapping boom relies on cruel and grisly tools

The following is an investigative piece by Tom Knudson that exposes the gruesome realities of  trapping wildlife and the industry that supports it all. 

Source: Reveal from the Center for Investigating Reporting by Tom Knudson January 14, 2016 
Day after day, the mountain lion struggled to free itself. But the steel-jaw trap held its grip.
Desperate, the big cat bit the trap so hard that it broke a tooth. It tugged and wrenched and twisted. Finally, exhausted and dehydrated, the 7-foot-long male died in the mountains of Nevada in 2013, its left leg still pinned in the trap.
Across the United States, the resurgence of a frontier tradition – commercial fur trapping – is taking a hidden, often grisly toll on wildlife. The activity is legal. It is regulated by state agencies. And for the most part, it doesn’t pose a threat to species’ survival.
But it is carried out in ways that often inflict prolonged suffering and capture many species – including mountain lions – by mistake. And much of it is happening on public land, including national forests, even wildlife refuges.
Fur trapping might seem like a page from the past, a reminder of the days of Daniel Boone and coonskin caps. And in most of the world, it is. Among the few nations where it occurs, none is more important than the United States. Every year, 150,000 trappers here capture and kill up to 7 million wild animals, more than any nation on earth.
In all, more than 20 species are targeted for their fur, from foxes to raccoons, coyotes to river otters. But it is the spotted, marble-white fur of one animal that has sparked a Wild West-like trapping boom in recent years.
That species is the bobcat, a stealthy, stub-tailed cousin of the Canadian lynx that inhabits 47 of the 50 states, yet is rarely seen. As a commodity, bobcats are traded by their pelts, which are skinned off the animals after they are trapped and killed in the field.

For trappers, the value of a pelt has soared, from under $100 in 2000 to more than $1,400 for top-quality items. Just as the Gold Rush drew a flood of greenhorns into the mountains in the mid-19th century, so too has the prospect of striking it rich in fur drawn novice trappers into the countryside today. Although average prices dropped below $400 last year, bobcat pelts remain one of the most valuable wildlife products in America.
Most of those pelts, though, don’t stay in America, where fur has fallen out of fashion because of concerns about cruelty and pressure from animal advocacy groups.

What’s fueling the market now are buyers in China, Russia, Europe and other parts of the world where fur is a symbol of wealth and power, where luxury garments made from the pelts of 30 to 40 animals sell for $50,000 to $150,000. The number of bobcat pelts exported from the U.S. has quadrupled in recent years, climbing to more than 65,000 in 2013, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
I wanted to know more about that trade, to connect the dots from the wide-open spaces out West where bobcats are caught and killed to the high-end fur stores overseas where eye-popping bobcat attire is sold. What I discovered was a world of stunning scenery and searing pain, a landscape where bobcats and other animals are captured with a device so hazardous that it is outlawed in more than 80 nations, from Austria to Zimbabwe: the steel-jaw trap.
Traps work by slamming shut on the paw or leg of an animal and holding it until a trapper arrives. Often, they are instruments of torture. Bones can be broken. Tendons are torn. Flesh is frayed. Some animals break free by chewing or twisting off a paw or limb. {Click HERE to read the full story}

Trapper Larry Gogert, shown holding fox and coyote pelts, says trapping is less cruel than the natural world. “If you didn’t catch them, they’ll suffer. Something else will kill them,” he said. Credit: Max Whittaker for Reveal

The home page for the Michael’s Furs/Montana Fur Traders website features a woman swaddled in pelts. Credit: Michaelsfurs.com

Running of the Hounds, Nowhere to Hide in the North Woods

Here lies OSCAR killed by bear  Sept. 22, 1984 and is proof that dogs die while hunting bear. I took the featured photo while out tracking wolves two weeks ago. Bear claws are hollow and filled with bacteria, and if a dog  isn’t out right killed by the bear, the infection from the wounds will finish the job.

Bear hunters would have you believe they are saving your life by sending in dogs to chase bears. How? By educating the bear with hound hunting dogs.

“When you take away the use of the hounds, you take away the opportunity to educate those bears to what is known as aversion conditioning,” explained Josh Brones, the Government Affairs Coordinator for the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance.” Quote is from KRCRTV

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bears are scared of dogs already. Even a toy poodle scares them off.

Bear hounders start feeding bears sweat treats starting in April. How is this sporting?

Baiting a wild animal so they will stick around long enough for  the hunter to get a kill shot.

The American Dentist who killed Cecil the beloved lion used bait to lure him out of a protected reserve. Then shot him with an arrow and left him to suffer. This inhumane act caused outrage by millions of people demanding his killer be extradicted and tried.

Yet, here in Wisconsin it is common practice to bait a bear with Cheerios to lure them in for a kill shot (but it is not legal to accually shoot the bear over a bait pile). It is common knowledge that  bears love sweats.

I will remind you that, it is not just wild bears hunted with packs of hunting dogs. Bobcats, coyotes and wolves are hound hunted.

If wolves are removed from the Endangered Species List they will be hunted with hound dogs.  Wolf hound hunts took place in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin. Packs of dogs engaged wolves in bloody fights and hounders bragged about it amonst themselves within their own twisted circles (confirmed by a reliable source).

Wildlife in Wisconsin is harassed ten months out of the year.

Wild bears in WI are tracked and trailed with packs of radio collared hound hunting dogs. How is it sporting? Hound handlers are often miles away from the chase sitting in their vehicles or sitting at the neighborhood tavern.

I’ve been out in the woods many times late into the night on wolf howl surveys and have heard lost hounds baying. Where are their handlers? Nowhere in sight.

Does Wisconsin condone the hounding of wildlife? It is all legal.  Even the grusome act of penning is legal here.

Captive wildlife, is brought in over state lines into Wisconsin for the purpose  of entertainment. Oh but, they call it education,  it is mutilating & torturing captive wildlife by dogs in training. In a fenced in pen with grown men watching.  It is called penning and it is all legal in Wisconsin.

Featured Image Copyright by Rachel Tilseth 

Warning the following video is grusome but it is a reality that is happening in Wisconsin. From penning facilty where hound dogs are set lose on fox and coyote

What can you do?

Call your elected representatives and express your outrage that this is legal in Wisconsin.