Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Torture of Leg-hold Traps

A series of events over a long span of time led me to spend considerable time in actively opposing the legality of the use of leg-hold traps. As a youngster during depression years I set trap lines and used leg-hold traps to trap skunks for their hides that brought in one dollar each. From that experience and others I was pronounced an "expert witness" by a Judge of the Rhode Island
Superior Court and informed by that Judge that I would be henceforth an "expert witness" in any court in our country. The whole question of torture has been in our news recently resulting in an overwhelming reaction indicating that most people are in opposition to torture, at least of humans, unless there is an almost impossible reason. The word includes emotional as well as the thumb screw type of pain. We humans are not as concerned with torture when it is out-of-sight. This is a problem with the thinking of even a civilized population such as ours concerning the use of steel traps. Who are the proponents of the use of these devices? First there are game keepers who insist these traps are necessary to control overpopulation of game but these are in the minority compared to those who make money by trapping and those who support them such as the leadership of the National Rifle Association and Ducks Unlimited. To satisfy myself as to opinions concerning the legitimacy of these devices, I wrote to many who should be authorities on the subject of pain in infra human animals and published a book on the subject. Not only were the opinions similar but many were literary gems of wording with not one negative expression. In my State of Connecticut at that time we were not successful in passing legislation but with the publicity aroused the number of licenses issued by our Fish and Game Commission fell from about 2,000 a year to about 200 today. All of the Deans of schools offering degrees in Veterinary Medicine I contacted were of similar opinion that all animals feel pain and as many expressed it that without feeling pain an animal would not survive long. In our country the humane groups have been so successful in condemning leg-hold trapping that few women in our country would be seen wearing a wild animal fur. Soon fall will be here and the trappers will once again get their traps out and set and somehow justify their use to themselves and their children that torture is acceptable if only dumb animals are tortured. The horror and flaunting of respect for defenceless creatures is repulsive and inexcusable. Can we say we live in a civilized society?

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