Scott Slocum, Independent Scientific/Political Commentator.
What's an Independent Scientific/Political Commentator?
A person with a range of understandings and opinions that don't necessarily fit into a single, partisan platform. An editor who doesn't like to be told that he should stop editing. A scholar who isn't satisfied with partisan or commercial accounts of the news. A writer who doesn't necessarily accept the advice that "if you want people to read your writing, you should write things they want to read." Etc.
I want to give moderates on the issue of trapping regulations some of the attention that extremists currently enjoy. Unfortunately, extremists on both sides of the issue (free-trapping vs. anti-trapping) are preventing us from finding good solutions by angering their opponents with personal attacks, distorting scientific facts, and proposing unworkable solutions. As long as this continues, the powers that be will not risk making improvements.
I want to invite people on both sides to join me in the middle.
I want to make the world a safer place with the help of reasonable, well-informed people including responsible trappers, trapping associations, wildlife-management experts and officials, conservationists and conservation societies, sportsmen and sporting associations, dog owners and dog clubs, parents and advocates of green time for children, etc.
About the Blogger
The blogger/editor of this website, Scott Slocum, is a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he still resides. A couple of years ago, a beautiful pair of Jack Russell Terriers, Goldie & Phillip, moved into the apartment in his home. He became part of their little family, and started looking for all of the places he could take them: the walkways around Birch Lake, dog parks and open spaces, state parks, highway-construction zones, and oh, of course, the marshland behind their home.
In the old days, the Slocum family farm was fenced all the way back into this marsh, there were only a few neighbors, and everybody knew that a couple of young men had permission to park at the end of the driveway and be out in the marsh trapping. That worked out, because everybody had their own, big yards; and there were open fields in every direction for people to walk with and toss sticks for their dogs. Foxes hunted mice in those fields, too, and everybody (except maybe those two young men) let them be. When Mr. Heckel followed a family of raccoons from his corn crib back to the old oak tree, he got consensus that it was time to do something about them, and then he did away with them--without putting anyone in the neighborhood in danger (except, of course, for the raccoons).
Now there are no fences. because there are lots of neighbors along the marsh. There are also lots of dogs walking. and children playing out on the marsh, with the common understanding in the neighborhood that everyone wants it to be safe.
But it turns out that the "common understanding" was incomplete. In the winter of 2011/2012, without any notice or any precautions to protect the surrounding residents, a trapper set deadly traps in the marsh, hidden in the grass and cattails. One of them caught Scott's dog Phillip by the throat, and even though Scott was there in a heartbeat, Phillip's heart was soon stopped.
This was not an isolated incident. This website indexes some of the news of other incidents, petitions in which more incidents are being reported, and information on how trapping can be done in ways that pose less danger to dogs and other "non-target species."
Phillip, the white dog in these photos, was killed in a body-grip trap on the evening of 1/26/2012. He was walking just ahead of his sister Goldie (the gold-colored dog in these photos) and his co-owner Scott Slocum. They were on public land behind their home in suburban White Bear Lake Minnesota, a neighborhood that Slocum, a native of the area, and most of is neighbors had considered safe. Slocum had recently reviewed the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook 2011 that he had picked up at the local license bureau. Diagrams and instructions on page 34 of the Handbook showed "how to release a domestic animal from a body gripping (raccoon) trap." Tragically, although Slocum was relatively strong and good with his hands, and although he was able to remember and follow all of the instructions it seemed he would need (except for the "rope method alternative" which, according to the instructions, it seemed he wouldn't need), he found that he didn't have the strength or the skills to release Phillip from the trap in time to save his life. Phillip died within minutes. Once Phillip had stopped struggling, Slocum was able to release him from the trap by compressing the springs of the trap (one at a time) using his body weight in a way that would have been impossible with Phillip struggling in the trap. Later that night, after Slocum had laid Phillip's body to rest in a homemade wooden coffin, he called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) to report the incident. He was referred to the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department the next morning. Both departments responded the next day, did their research, and determined that the trap was legal according to State and Municipal regulations. The anonymous trapper (known only to the DNR by his license number) removed his traps at Slocum's request, but did not say anything about his plans for trapping in the area in the future, and he did not say anything by way of condolence or apology.
Slocum sees in light of this experience that current State and Municipal regulations are inadequate to protect people and their pets from traps. But from the opposition he has encountered in asking for improved regulations (regulations that call for nothing more than ethical trapping), he also sees that there won't be any improvement until well-informed people in sufficient numbers demand protection from trapping.
This website is a forum for the independent commentary of the blogger, who does not necessarily agree or disagree with the opinions that are expressed by others on it, or with the materials he quotes, links, or cites.