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Sierra Club withdraws from the debate.

posted Aug 29, 2012, 11:20 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Aug 29, 2012, 11:29 AM ]
In its 5/19/2012 position on wildlife trapping, the Sierra Club Board of Directors has attempted to change the meaning of the commonly-used term "body-gripping" (in defining a class of devices that are used to take wild animals). They obviously didn't talk with anyone about it, but just went off in their own direction--without anyone following them. Furthermore, they've gone on to paint in black and white a number of issues that naturally appear in millions of colors.

In commonly-accepted terminology, a "body-gripping" (or "Conibear") trap is one that's designed to kill an animal quickly by striking and holding pressure on vital internal organs (within a few minutes if it strikes the target animal around the throat and top of the spine). From the point of view of a responsible trapper or wildlife manager (assuming that the target animal will be killed in this or another way, and that precautions have been taken to avoid killing non-target animal species or individuals) body-gripping traps are considered more humane than other devices in certain cases, because they accomplish the goal quickly (with a minimum duration of pain and suffering).

State of the art of trapping does include precautions to avoid killing non-target species and individuals. Skillful, responsible trappers and wildlife managers know how to take these precautions, and do take them. The debate that the Sierra Club has withdrawn from here centers on the question of whether trappers and wildlife managers should be required to take these precautions. By focusing on a different question ("should trapping be allowed at all?") the Board has effectively withdrawn the Sierra Club from the debate at hand ("should precautions be required?"). That's a disappointment, because the Sierra Club's support for precautions would be greatly appreciated.