Radical statewide solution proposed in Oregon

Post date: Dec 10, 2012 6:58:41 PM

Problem #1: dogs are being unnecessarily killed by traps that are set for wildlife. Problem #2: all that's necessary to protect dogs is to take standard, ethical precautions when trapping, but there's political resistance to setting those ethics into law. Problem #3: even some of the people who are taking trapper-education classes and learning the ethics and safe methods are unnecessarily killing dogs in their traps. Solution: those ethics need to be in the law.

Here's a recent press release on the subject.

The Humane Society of the United States issued the following press release on 12/6/2012:

"The Humane Society of the United States strongly criticized the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Oregon Trappers Association for shameful disregard of pet safety on public lands during trapping season..."

"Among other things, the state advised pet owners to carry wire cutters and rope and learn how to use them to save their dogs or other pets that are caught and injured [in traps]..."

"The HSUS is urging the Oregon lawmakers to pass legislation in the 2013 session that will ban trapping for recreation and commerce. Other trapping conducted in the name of wildlife management should be limited by regulations designed to safeguard pets and their owners."

Okay, two comments: 1) good, the HSUS has identified a problem and is helping to educate people about it, and 2) uh oh, the HSUS is calling for a radical solution.

Obviously, it's a problem that dogs are being injured and killed unnecessarily by traps, and it's inappropriate that a State wildlife agency is ignoring calls for a solution. People need to know about this problem in order to avoid the traps and call for solutions, and the HSUS is helping to spread the word.

Unfortunately, the HSUS (along with the Trap Free Oregon 2014 ballot initiative) is calling for a radical solution to the problem without acknowledging that there are more reasonable solutions.

Here are the problems I see with the proposed HSUS solution:

  1. It would attempt to deny a recreational pastime to safe and responsible sportsmen.
  2. It would create a wildlife-management vacuum in which expensive problems would arise.
  3. It wouldn't get enough votes statewide, and therefore it wouldn't accomplish anything.

Here's a more reasonable solution: part of the last sentence of the HSUS proposal:

Trapping should be limited by regulations designed to safeguard pets and their owners.

There: problem solved without trying to do the impossible.

Now let's talk about the word "statewide" in the title of this blog entry and its comment about voting. The problem with making a law to apply to a whole State is that a State is a big place with different land types (rural, suburban, and urban) and communities. A residential community might well adopt the HSUS proposal, and indeed some have. The Recommended System on the Safe Suburban Wildlife Management website is similar to the HSUS proposal (and the Trap Free Oregon 2014 ballot initiative).

So, why, if the HSUS proposal wouldn't work statewide, why would it work in a residential community? Because in a residential community there are smaller lots, fewer fences, and more people and pets walking around. The risk of unsafe trapping is higher and the per-capita benefit is lower. Only a few people benefit from recreational trapping in a residential community, but unless they're highly skilled and accountable for their actions, they're likely to be putting everyone else at risk.

Statewide trapping regulations need to fit the whole State. This HSUS proposal (and the Trap Free Oregon 2014 ballot initiative) wouldn't fit any whole State. It does have merit, though, for urban and suburban Ordinances.