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Judging from Otis in a trap

posted Apr 23, 2012, 10:44 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 11:48 AM ]
Here's the comment I just made on a YouTube video about a dog named Otis caught in a leg-hold trap in the mountains of Montana.

Commenters here have passed judgement without knowing whether the area was protected from trapping, how this dog behaved off-leash, whether this might have been the stupid first set of a trapper wannabe, etc. I've put my fingers into a trap too, to see how it felt; but I sure didn't try to get out of it the way an animals does. Please don't try this, but know that your fingers are flexible while the steel isn't, and imagine what would happen if you pulled hard.

And here's what I wrote before YouTube required me to be so brief:

I've viewed this video and read the comments.

Right, it would be good to know more about the location of this incident. Some areas are protected from trapping, and in these areas people can at times let their well-behaved dogs off the leash. It depends on the dog and the area.

Right, the shiny finish on the trap shows that it's new and previously unused. Maybe a fake trapping incident, but maybe an untrained, careless trapper making a first set without thinking about the unintended damage it might do. Not even thinking, usually, about the damage that it's intended to do.

Wrong, traps aren't harmless. I just completed a trapper-education program where I learned how to think about the location, the set, and "what might happen here" before setting a trap. Those were good lessons. On the other hand, my instructors also snapped an old #1 longspring trap onto their fingers to show how the trap didn't cause them any harm. I let that same trap close gently down on my four fingers, and let me tell you I didn't move them until they were out of there. I could tell that any move could cause harm. But when an animal can't get out, it pulls, pushes, and bites to get free--and that hurts. In a later lesson, I couldn't help but remember this as we passed around an old #2 coilspring trap had been used to trap coyotes. There was a big dent in the bottom plate, and my instructors pointed out that it had been put there by coyotes. The point they wanted to teach was that you've got to use a powerful trap for a coyote, but the point I got was how those animals must have injured themselves in that trap. By the time the trapper comes back to check, the animal is sometimes "waiting quietly," but that's only after they've tried to escape and experienced untold pain and suffering. Think about it sometime if you're ever unfortunate enough to have a #2 coilspring closed gently over your four fingers. Hint: "don't try this at home." Really, don't try this, it's dangerous.


It only took a minute to set up this photo in a #2 coilspring (of course I eased it on gently and didn't try to pull my hand out of it), but my fingers were already hurting.