Why we will fight
The snow is falling, the tracks are clear. The traps have been laid out on trails, closed roads and placed in the water, by the shores of rivers, which navigate our lands. For trappers, these are the good times. The time when they kill without reason, without logic, the times when they make clear that they control our public lands. That they have been given a right to destroy all that is wild. Devoid of soul, they lay their traps; they club or shoot those animals that have been lured to their fate, by the trapper’s lust to kill.
Ask yourself this-while hiking in the woods or following a river, when is the last time you saw a beaver or an otter? When did you see a fisher or a pine marten? How often have been privileged to see wolves in the wild, outside of Yellowstone? Have you ever encountered a swift fox? For most of us, the times have been few, if ever.
But what if trapping was ended? What then would your experience be on our public lands? It would likely be much more than just the scenery, it would more likely involve interaction with animals; species that stir the soul, that make you feel a sense of wonder. You see these hikes that seem normal to us, are in fact occurring in lands that are far too empty of life, a circumstance that cheats all of us of our right to co-exist peacefully with species. Trapping steals from us the wonder of species many have never seen, it leaves us a world of deer and elk. Like a painting that is missing color, we feel the need for more vibrancy in our outdoor experience. Our heart tells us so.
On the other side are people like State Representative Steve Gunderson of Libby, who clearly understands the trapper’s talking points, when he stated on Facebook “very interesting how the anti-trapping sentiment is asking for historic use of public lands to be removed”. What is so historic about the slaughter of wildlife in the West? It remains one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history, yet representatives like Gunderson, want to pretend that it was not only good, but we must keep this tradition alive despite all the science, our growing understanding of wildlife and the real extinction crisis we face. Gunderson, it appears, stands with the indiscriminate killing of wildlife, rather than understanding the ability to share the land with species that simply want to live. That inability to evolve is in truth the cultural “trap” that we face in moving to end trapping in Montana.
Trapping has no place in our modern world and trappers deserve no respect from elected officials, these cruel and inhumane people are a cancer on the land. Yet, respect they seem to continue to garner. There are many more like Gunderson who will fight to allow this morbid and destructive practice to continue. But if New Mexico is an example (trapping has been restricted and may be ended in the next two years), we must fight back hard and without fear, understanding we are the clear majority. We must be present at all Fish, Wildlife and Park Commission meetings. Not 4-5 of us, but more like 200 of us! We must begin to demand more of our city and county commissions to push Fish, Wildlife and Parks to stop trapping in the urban interface. We must take the traps off our rivers, so wildlife has a fighting chance.
If any of that seems right to you, then join us in our fight, begin looking at our website in the weeks ahead to see the campaigns that we are fighting for and help us by volunteering, by going to meetings, locating traps and letting us know, so people and pets can be safe. But most of all, it is critical that as a majority voice, we expect more of our elected officials and Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It is unacceptable for some elected officials to hide behind this myth that WE (those opposed to trapping) are taking the lands away and that we must respect this so-called tradition to trap and kill. Our answer is clear: bullshit.
Trappers have stolen the lands away from those that want to recreate and who believe strongly in sharing these lands with wildlife. That ethical compact, most of us understand as our responsibility.
These are times that define a movement. Let this be our time to stand together to end the suffering, the cruelty, the ignorance that ignores the wild heart of our lands. Trapping must end in Montana, it won’t happen overnight, so let’s get to work.