Guest Columnist Patrick Connelly: ‘Wrong for people, wrong for animals, wrong for science’

  • Tip of a Pen Mike Watson Images

Published: 2/16/2021 3:27:43 PM

I am writing to voice strong opposition to the proposed legislation in bills HD 1592 /SD 1029. I am a hobby fur trapper as well as a professional animal damage control trapper. The proposed bills will do nothing to help wildlife, will facilitate wanton waste and go against the North American conservation model. Also synthetic faux fur, along with being an inferior textile, clogs landfills and breaks down to microplastics whereas real fur can be composted, upcycled etc.

Wildlife under the North American conservation model is a public trust. This means that wildlife is as much yours as it is mine until it is harvested and becomes someone’s possession. The strict seasons and bag limits set by biologists determine what amount of harvest is permitted to maintain healthy ecological and social carrying capacities.

Cyclical fashion trends paired with knee-jerk propagandized anti-fur sentiments have created an industry for nuisance control trappers. This is to make up for the lack of recreational harvest from hobby trappers. When fur trappers trap they pay for licenses that fund conservation, habitat acquisition, pay biologists salaries etc. Sometimes to offset the costs of their hobby they sell some or all of the pelts they harvest to defray some of the costs. When nuisance trappers remove animals it is for a fee. This cost typically starts at several hundred dollars but can cost a lot more.

Animals need to be trapped and will be trapped/removed in perpetuity. By removing the market for fur you will simply inflate the costs nuisance trappers are able to charge because there is no competition from hobby trappers. Most nuisance trappers I know (myself included) try to line up the majority of their work during the recreational trapping season so animals removed can be utilized. Under this bill they will still be removed but the resource will be wasted. Wanton waste goes directly against the North American Conservation model. This is the same model that hunters, trappers and anglers, biologists, conservationists and passive and consumptive recreators used to bring North American Wildlife back from the brink of devastation. There are literally laws prohibiting wanton waste or our natural resources and by passing these proposed laws you and everyone in support of them are complicit in an astronomical increase in disuse of the resource.

The images of fur farms (which there are currently none operating in Massachusetts) are both inaccurate and disingenuous. European fur farms are held to some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. What is also especially deceitful is the exclusion of lamb skin, wool and leather products. Animals that actually spend their lives in cages and who’s harvest dwarfs the number of farmed and trapped animals. You’re simply creating some unfounded hierarchy of animals who are ok to utilize.

As for textiles more and more research is coming to light as to superiority of natural animal product textiles. As I mentioned before fur is entirely compostable and even if carefully maintained fur will break down over time. Petroleum based faux fur products will likely outlast all of us before they begin to decompose. The vibrant sheen, softness as well as breathability of fur cannot be nor will it ever be replicated by synthetics. Humanity is no match for mother nature.

These bills need to be seen as what they are, an attack on science based wildlife management as well as the North American Conservation Model. The fur trade built this country and currently many species numbers that exceed that of the time of European contact. Emotions cannot override the science! The last time we meddled in wildlife management and gagged the scientists was in 1996 with question 1. What did that do? In a short spell our beaver population nearly tripled and conflicts increased astronomically.

I have everything to gain from this bill passing. My business will likely increase. I’ll be able to charge more money for the service I provide. I am against this because it is morally wrong. Wrong for people, wrong for animals, wrong for science. I hope this will open your eyes to the intricacies of this issue and you will withdraw your support of this asinine piece of legislator.

Patrick Connelly is the owner of Connelly Wildlife Management in Easthampton.

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