Guest columnist Jackie Compton: Another view on trapping

  • mactrunk

Published: 3/31/2021 3:20:33 PM

I read Patrick Connelly’s impassioned defense of trapping and the fur industry (“Wrong for people, wrong for animals, wrong for science,” Feb. 17) and thought — whoa! His piece contained so many errors, exaggerations, false assumptions and biases that to address them all point-by-point here would be impossible.

Let’s just say that it’s completely disingenuous to try and pass off the cruel and exploitive practice of fur-trapping as moral, humane and scientifically justifiable. And as for trapping being good for the animals, well, that’s like claiming Donald Trump won by a landslide. Both times.

I can see why Mr. Connelly is worried about what seems like a waste of the pelts of the animals he traps and kills. But that doesn’t mean trapping is inherently thrifty, the way people used to save buttons or string. In fact, calling something time-honored often means it can no longer be justified by any other means, like the infamous Rule of Thumb law, where it used to be legal in some states for a man to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than her thumb. That law was eventually abolished everywhere — that’s progress!

It’s also a sign of progress that wearing fur, despite its appeal, has become hugely unpopular. And far more people prefer to watch and appreciate wild animals now than hunt and kill them — less than 1% of Massachusetts residents engage in hunting and even fewer in trapping. Even the rhetoric of hunting, which presumes that wild animals are the property of humans, to be “taken” and “harvested,” seems abhorrent these days, as society becomes increasingly attuned to issues of fundamental justice.

That proprietary way of looking at other species simply does not resonate anymore. So, while you can argue, as Mr. Connelly does, that fur-trapping contributed to the early economic base of this country, so did the genocide of Native Americans. And slavery. Look where that got us.

I would like to imagine a future in which people try harder to tolerate wild animals, to live peacefully with them, instead of considering them a nuisance to be removed by professionals like Mr. Connelly. These are often humane alternatives to animal-human conflicts, as we’ve found with beavers and black bears. It’s well worth the effort to learn about them and change our activities and habits, to choose accommodation rather than extermination.

The rewards of seeking wise and compassionate choices are, as always, profound.

Please support SD 1029/HD 1592.

Jackie Compton is a resident of Haydenville.

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