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, animal-protection advocates, etc.
About the Blogger
The blogger/editor of this website, Scott Slocum, is a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he still resides. In 2010, a beautiful pair of Jack Russell Terriers, Goldie & Phillip, moved into the apartment unit in his home. He became part of their little family, and he 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 of course, the wetland area 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 with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum that it was time to do something about them, and then he killed them--without putting anyone in the neighborhood in danger (except, of course, for the raccoons).
Now there are no fences, and there are lots of neighbors all around the wetland. There are dogs walking and children playing out on the wetland, with the common understanding among the neighbors that everyone wants it to be safe.
But it turns out that the "common understanding" is incomplete. In the winter of 2011/2012, without any notice or any precautions to protect the surrounding residents, a trapper set body-gripping (lethal) 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 soon stopped beating.
This was not an isolated incident. This website indexes news of some of the other incidents like it, 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-and-brown 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 person, 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 his neighbors had considered safe. Shortly before the incident, Slocum had 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 turned out that the primary method didn't work for him, and he needed to use the "rope method alternative" (which, according to the instructions, he shouldn't have needed). He wasn't prepared to employ the "rope method alternative," and he wasn't able 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 alive 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 did not convey any message in the way of a condolence or apology.
Slocum sees, in light of this experience, that current Minnesota State and many 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.