IS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT IN IDAHO
By Jane Mason and Katrina Winters
Updated October 2017
The barbarisms of trapping are forever preserved as a “preferred means of managing wildlife” in Idaho, thanks to Senator Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls) and his cronies in the Idaho Legislature.¹ Heider’s determination to make trapping a part of Idaho’s constitution was presented on the ballot as HJR2. It was approved by 70 percent of Idaho voters on November 6, 2012. On that infamous day, the “right” to severely injure both wild and domestic animals, leaving many to struggle for up to 72 hours in the most cruel, painful contraptions ever invented, was catapulted to the level of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Embedding trap-torture into Idaho’s constitution was mere frosting on the cake. For as long as anyone can remember, the intellectually stunted and morally compromised political apparatus of Idaho has encouraged the trapping of wild animals by way of prehistoric and cruel equipment. Commercial and recreational trappers may freely use steel foothold traps, spine-busting Conibears and choking snares for recreation and profit. Although Idaho trappers make up only about .001 percent of the state’s population, they have long been protected and empowered by a state legislature overwhelmingly controlled by hunting and agricultural interests.
Resident adult trappers may deploy the metal against unlimited numbers of animals for a meager $26.75 per season. Children 18 or younger can join in the fun for $7.25. There are no mandatory trapping classes for the capture of any Idaho species other than wolves. During the 2010-2011 season, the Department of Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) licensed 1,222 trappers who caught an estimated 40,160 animals across the state. Trappers averaged 44 pelts, sold 30 of them and gleaned $644.70 before expenses. Doing the math, each of these animals “died dirty” to enrich a trapper with a lousy $14.50. We will update trapping figures as the state issues its reports.2
Shown above is a table laden with an array of state-approved traps at an IDFG office in North Idaho. This nefarious collection of torture devices makes Marquis de Sade’s tool box look downright philanthropic. The paraphernalia was displayed during the 2011-2012 season as part of the curriculum for an IDFG seminar obligatory for obtaining wolf-trapping permits. This was the first season that wolf trapping was unleashed in Idaho after grey wolf protection under the Endangered Species Act was curtailed. That year, IDFG licensed 1752 trappers (a 24% increase over the previous season) indicating that the opportunity to trap-torture a wild canid was particularly stimulating to the Idaho hunting population. 3
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the National Animal Control Association (NACA) have all declared monstrosities like these traps to be inhumane,4 because they cause extreme and prolonged pain for ensnared animals. Making the situation worse is the excessive cruelty of winter trapping. The federal government admits that cold temperatures causes extra damage (and thus enhanced pain) when freezing temperatures are combined with dehydration and restricted blood circulation.5
Among IDFG-displayed traps was the steel-toothed creation seen below. When asked by a student how badly it might pain a human hand snapped in its jaws, IDFG trapping instructor Rick Williamson replied, “It could make you pee down both legs.” Any animal enticed into such a foothold trap, be it wolf, fox, large cat or ungulate, can suffer deep lacerations, broken bones, ripped tendons or dislocated joints as it fights against the pain to free itself.
Shown below is a snare trap, one of many distributed free of charge by IDFG to its trapping students. This mean machine consists of heavy cable looped through a locking device designed to entangle, then strangle. Precision fittings smoothly nudge the cable into an ever smaller circumference with an animal’s every movement. Once these wires are darkened for obscurity and set on game trails among thick foliage, they can ensnare a variety of animals by any body part, slowly cutting circulation and constricting vital organs. IDFG trapping instructors admit that these snares routinely catch non-target animals, including deer.
While demonstrating this device during trapping class, IDFG instructor Jack Whitman advised: “You want to cut off blood flow in the carotid artery.” But strangle snares are not a quick death. While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in minutes, larger animals can suffer for days as they fight the snares until their skin tears and the blood flows. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and straining as large animals slowly suffocate. Trappers use the term “jelly-head,” referring to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and bodies of neck-snared canids, such as wolves and coyotes.6
Animals fighting these snares often suffer severe lacerations, especially on the face and around the mouth. Commercial trappers, paid $2,000 per live animal, deployed neck snares to capture Canadian wolves used in the 1995-96 Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Program. The snares were set mainly to restrain, yet the record shows that some wolves were so badly injured they required stitches and antibiotics before they could be moved to the USA.7
Idaho animals can legally be left to suffer in a foothold trap, Conibear or neck snare for up to 72 hours. There is virtually no way to ensure that trappers do not exceed, for convenience or sloth, this elongated window of horrendous suffering. Many trappers ultimately strangle, suffocate or club to death what lies helpless in their traps so that bullets will not mar the pelts.
In IDFG’s “furbearer” category are beaver, otter, muskrat, fox, marten, mink and bobcat. The Idaho trapping seasons for these animals extend from two to five months, depending on the species. Badgers can be trapped year-round. In several Idaho regions, foxes can also be trapped year-round. Beavers, otters and muskrats are often caught in underwater traps in which they can suffer severe stress and hypoxia-induced pain for 20 minutes or more as they slowly drown.8 Over 20,000 Idaho muskrats and 2,729 beavers were trapped during the 2010-2011 season alone. The martens, minks and foxes trap-tortured that season totaled over 3,000. About one thousand breathtakingly-beautiful bobcats suffer in Idaho traps each year.9
Relegated to Idaho’s lowly “predatory” category are: coyote, raccoon, jackrabbit, skunk and weasel. Coyotes are an especially popular target, appealing to certain individuals who love to boast that they got the most. Thousands of Idaho coyotes are trapped each year, and countless more shot. No trapping license is required “for resident children under the age of 12 years to hunt, take or kill predatory, unprotected birds and animals by means other than with firearms.”10 This grotesque rule provides Idaho pre-teens with state-sanctioned opportunity to maim and kill in cruel ways both animals and birds in the predatory category, including pigeons and starlings.
In the “large game” category are what remains of Idaho wolves. These supremely intelligent canids are routinely subjected to the horrific suffering of traps. The wolf trapping season generally extends for 4.5 months within a much longer wolf hunting season which subjects wolves to bullets and arrows. Wolf haters can also use leftover wolf hunting tags to trap wolves, giving qualified individuals the opportunity to torture numerous wolves per bi-year season.11 Since Idaho wolf flesh is ”on sale,” licensed resident trappers and hunters can obtain wolf tags for a thrifty $11.50 each.
- During Idaho’s 2011-2012 wolf season, 124 wolves -–some mere puppies–- were subjected to trap-torture preceding their violent death. A number of these were documented on state mortality reports to have broken some or all of their teeth, probably in their struggle to escape.
- During the 2012-2013 wolf season 120 Idaho wolves were trap-tortured, in addition to 199 other wolves killed by arrows or bullets.
- Another 297 Idaho wolves were dispatched by bullets and arrows during the 2013-2014 kill season. Of these,104 were subjected to the torture of steel foothold traps and neck snares.
- The 2014-2015 wolf hunting season ended with an additional 250 Idaho wolves executed.
The 2015-2016 season the brave killers of Idaho exterminated Idaho 147 wolves by hunting and they tortured 124 others in traps. The totals for the 2016-2017 season demonstrated the results of chronic attrition on the wolf population with 144 wolves hunted and 82 trapped. The brutal 2017-2018 wolf-kill season is now underway.12
Bizarre Is the World of Idaho Trappers
It was Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer who said, “Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.” Such sentiment is foreign indeed to Idaho trappers and their pandering politicians. Mingle with a group of trappers and you will often hear them describe what they do to animals as “fun.” IDFG trapping students have been assured that Idaho officials try not to impose too many “nitpicking regulations” so that “you guys can enjoy what you are doing.” Trapping has been referred to as “sport” by the Idaho Trappers Association: “We are fighting to keep your hobby alive.”13
When a humane person sees a victimized animal like the neck-snared wolf seen above, normal emotional responses include sorrow and empathy. Emotionally healthy humans reject animal torture and believe that “do unto others” should apply to all living creatures, as well as humans. But in the barren terrain of trapper mentality, wild animals are either vermin or commodity, with virtually no intrinsic value as beings worthy of mercy. One experienced trapper in an IDFG trapping class complained that when metal “rips the shit out of the sides of their faces,” the profit for fur animals is reduced.
Along with endless wind-bagging about exploits on the trap line, many trappers express self-assurance that zoosadism can be committed in the name of humane intentions and noble causes. Some trappers go so far as to insist that they “respect” the animals they so badly hurt. Such illusion is perhaps how these sadists avoid remorse for serial cruelty inherent in a “hobby” which many old-timers admit is addictive.
No minimum age is required for Idaho trapping; even pre-schoolers can participate. Some trappers share their addiction with young kids, surely a form of child abuse. How does society advocate responsibility and kindness towards pets and farm animals, while demonstrating pain-intensive brutality towards wild animals? What are the psychological costs of teaching youngsters to club to death a helpless animal in a trap?
Occasionally an animal torturer will have an epiphany. One such man was Dick Randall, a long-time extermination agent for the state of Wyoming. Randall spent years poisoning, gassing and aerial gunning, while also photographing his pitiful victims: “One day in southern Wyoming’s Red Desert, Randall and his eleven year old son approached a male bobcat that had been struggling for days in one of Randall’s traps. The animal had probably dislocated a leg and had bitten through much of the ligament, cartilage, and muscle; but perhaps because of dehydration and shock, he had not succeeded in separating himself from the trap.”14
As the two humans approached, the cat took a frightened lunge, then died with its eyes open. Randall’s son asked his dad the reason for causing such suffering. Randall had no rational answer. He quit the agency, published his gruesome pictures and began a career advocating prohibition of trap torture. Randall broke the heart of the world when he revealed that black bears caught in traps “would look at you and bawl like a baby.”15
There is not a successful trapper out there who has not seen immense suffering in his gory quest. Yet IDFG uses Idaho’s annual gray wolf massacre to enlarge the state’s trapper population. By November 2011, IDFG proudly reported that it had certified 390 individuals to trap wolves and expected to certify up to a total of six hundred wolf trappers by the end of December that year.16 Wolf trapping classes get underway each season to accommodate a new crop of trapper converts.
IDFG and its licensed trappers understand that much of the general public is repulsed by the realities of animal cruelty. IDFG instructors admonish trapping students to prevent opportunities for gory photos that might fall into the hands of media. Regarding the disposal of trapped wolf carcasses, a 2012 IDFG class hand-out recommended the same kind of surreptition that would accompany the furtive killing of humans: Don’t show off your trapped animals or boast about your harvest in public places. Use game bags or a tarp to hide your catch in the field. Use heavy garbage bags for a dead wolf taken to the dump, or use a bone pile on private land that won’t be discovered by passersby. “If you have a remote line, you can take it back out and hide it there.”17
But dark deeds have a gruesome way of bubbling to the surface because some killers are compulsive braggarts. Electrifying insight into trapper mentality was briefly seen in 2012 at www.trapperman.com in a blog by prolific Idaho trapper Josh Bransford. An employee for the Nez Perce National Forest in central Idaho, Bransford had himself photographed next to a magnificent foot-trapped wolf as it stood bleeding in the snow.
To his fellow trap lovers, Bransford wrote on January 20, 2012: “Well I finally conected [sic] on a Wolf! I have been after them since December with multiple sets….” Bransford estimated that the animal had been in the foothold for about twelve hours. He wrote that a forest service “cop” notified him that a crowd had been shooting at the trapped wolf. When Bransford arrived at his trap site, he found that the wolf “had been shot twice from the road.” Bransford disclosed that he later chatted with the “young guys” who had done the shooting. “They were a bit under gunned for wolves,” he wrote, which explains why the wolf was still standing with its bullet wounds. He mused: “I was a bit miffed at them, but in reality I can’t get too worked up about it. It could have ended up a lot worse. Small town and all, and pretty sure they were not doing it out of ill-will.”18 Naw, they were just doing what comes naturally in a gun-obsessed culture which holds: IF IT MOVES -–SHOOT IT!
Crucifixion is a word which historically applies to slow, painful death maliciously inflicted. The beautiful wolf in Bransford’s photos suffered a typical Idaho crucifixion. It endured many hours of stress and pain in an ice-encrusted trap. It was assaulted by a mob of pot-shooters. It bled and it ultimately died for this: “…He will make me a good wall hanger.” Despite Idaho regulations which require wolf shooters to obtain licenses and tags, Idaho officials filed no charges against those who illegally “drilled” the trapped wolf.
After the Bransford atrocity went viral on the Internet, David Linkhart, a spokesman for the National Trappers Association, said that he failed to understand the outrage. “The animal, its going to be killed. Taking another 15 or 20 seconds to say ‘Hey, lets take a picture first,’ I don’t see anything wrong with that.”19 But an editorial in the Boise Idaho Statesman called Bransford’s behavior “sickening” because “it violates the basic standards of ethical, humane behavior.” The editorial sized up Idaho’s rampant cultural pathology: “Posing for the photo, instead of killing a suffering animal, was a breach of protocol, but not a violation of the law. So according to the state, it’s legal. But it is also wrong.”20
And thus the Bransford atrocity thrust into neon the vast chasm between moral midgets and other humans who know the difference between right and wrong. The Bransford incident demonstrates precisely the horrific mindset of bullies incapable of feeling remorse or guilt for psychotic acts of hatred and cruelty which they so proudly inflict upon the defenseless. Especially heartbreaking is the fact that Idaho’s political apparatus –the office of governor, the state legislature and the Fish and Game Commission– encourage, protect and coddle those who blatantly commit such atrocities.
The pitiful creature seen above is in a Conibear (body gripping) trap. This murderous contraption is the fate of countless Idaho bobcats and other furbearing animals with the blessing of IDFG. Bobcat fur is currently all the rage in China.
During the Idaho trapping season, countless thousands of Conibears, strangle snares and foothold traps are set across the state. They hang or lie concealed, waiting to injure or kill pets. Traps of many kinds and sizes can be set across Idaho as close as five feet from the center line and right-of-way of roads and public walking trails. They can be obscured up to 3oo feet from public campgrounds or placed in culverts where kids often explore. They are set on public lands, in wildlife sanctuaries and near tourist attractions. No trap warning signs are required. As dangerous as land mines, traps put domestic animals at huge risk. The Humane Society of America reports: “Countless dogs and cats are injured and killed each year in indiscriminate steel-jawed leghold traps, Conibear traps and snares.”21
In late 2012, the Spokesman Review reported that according to state records, at least 30 dogs and 24 house cats were among the some 800 non-target animals reported caught in Idaho traps over the previous two years.22 How many others were neither found nor reported is anyone’s guess.
In late December 2013, the Cougar Gulch area near Post Falls, Idaho, was the site of another Idaho trapping atrocity when a four-year-old dog was killed by a large Conibear trap. The dog’s owner reported to the local media: “My wife heard a horrible yelp and called me for help,” Pat said. Billi was caught in a Conibear trap, which quickly killed her….The trap snapped on Billi’s neck and its grip was so tight Pat had to ask a friend to help him unlatch the springs to release her body.”23
A month later, a Great Dane pet was killed in a Conibear trap when he and the Miller family were hiking near the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. “It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen,” Miller said. “He was gurgling.” With her father, she tried to release the jaws of the trap from the dog’s body, but it wouldn’t budge. “Within 30 seconds, his oxygen was cut off and he was dead,” Miller said. 24
At a public hearing later in 2014, concerned citizens of North Idaho asked Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners to prohibit Conibear traps in recreational areas and to require warning signs in all trapping areas. The Commissioners turned a deaf ear to these public pleas, announcing that no changes to the rules would be forthcoming and that “trapper education” would solve the problems. IDFG has released a video with instructions on how to release pets from traps. But these canned and carefully demonstrated instructions are not germane to real-life situations describe by so many desperate pet owners.
For example, in November 2012, immediately after IDFG opened its 2012-2013 wolf trapping season, Stacy Van Steenwyk’s golden lab fell into a foothold trap in the Grangeville, Idaho area. Van Steenwyk wrote: “When the trap snapped shut on Dotti’s leg, she began yelping and drug the trap to the middle of the roadbed….Traps aren’t really made to release live, struggling, frantic animals…So Dotti had to endure the trap on her leg while one friend ran to bring the truck to the trap location in order to transport her to a veterinarian in town….But then we discovered the trap was jammed and would not spring open. It took four grown men with pry bars and heavy screw drivers to pry the jaws of the trap open. After X-rays we discovered that Dotti’s leg was not broken but it was inflamed and painful. Even a week after the trauma, Dotti is a different dog. There is now fear and uncertainty where there was once that yellow lab reckless abandonment before trapping.” Van Steenwik further stated, “I do have to admit that I am now worried about these traps in the woods along our trails and roadbeds. The trap Dotti stepped into was within a foot of the roadbed, right along the shoulder of the road, and could have easily trapped a youngster’s foot or hand as well as any pet.”25
Federal trapper Dick Randall told Congress years ago, “My trapping records show that for each target animal I trapped, about two unwanted individuals were caught. Because of trap injuries, these non-target animals had to be destroyed.”26 Therefore, it is likely that IDFG’s estimate of about 40,000 animals trapped in Idaho during the 2010-2011 season translates into 120,000 animals actually injured or killed in traps during that time period. For years Idaho trappers have been paid for by the state for turning in the otters and fishers they strangle, drown or gut-squash by mistake. Between 2002 and 2011, 432 of these non-target casualties were surrendered to IDFG for a monetary reward.27
Defending what it is that trappers do, Patrick Carney, president of the Idaho Trappers Association, told the media in October 2012: “I do not believe that it’s inhumane. We’ve come a long ways over the last probably forty years with the kind of traps.”28
In reality, the suffering of domestic and non-target wild animals is incalculable. B. J. Waters told the people of North Idaho in March 2012: “….Our biggest problem hasn’t been the wolf, but the ominous snares that have already killed two of our dogs. We discovered three abandoned snares left on our land that had one coyote, one snowshoe rabbit and a deer with a snare still wrapped around its muzzle, all three in various stages of decomposition because the trapper must have forgotten about these sets…..My wife takes long walks with her dog. A few months ago, her dog was caught around its belly with a snare. She clung to the dog on the ground to keep her from squirming because with every squirm, the cable would cut deeper into its guts. She was on her cell phone for over an hour trying to reach someone with cutters to set her dog free.”29
It was 2010 when a beautiful Idaho Husky named Bella suffered so much pain from her 9-hour entanglement in a snare trap that she literally chewed off her foot before her owner could rescue her. Her leg was later amputated.
Bella’s owner Bob Norie suffered blood poisoning from the bite he incurred while he and two other men worked frantically to cut the cable wound tightly around her neck, torso and leg. Norie, a forestry contractor for the US Forest Service, had taken Bella to the Boise National Forest as a protective companion while he worked as a tree surveyor in a roadless area. Somehow she became entangled in the night while Norie slept in camp. Bella’s snare was one of many set in the area by Wildlife Services (WS), an agency of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). WS is the nation’s premier extermination service and it is often WS agents who whack wild animals at the request of federal and state agencies. The 2010 wolf extermination project launched by WS in the Boise area illustrates the fact that both state and federal agencies are responsible for some of the trap hazards which bedevil both wild and domestic animals across Idaho and many other states. In 2012, the Sacramento Bee reported that WS neck snares kill thousands of animals nationwide each year.30
These tragic stories highlight the predicament of Idaho pet owners who have no recourse and no recompense for the misery and loss that traps inflict. When Norie sought compensation for his trauma and massive expense, he was threatened with the possibility of being charged with theft and the destruction of government property because he had removed Bella’s trap.31 So sacred is trap-torture in Idaho that it is actually unlawful for any person, other than the trapper himself, to release or dispatch a suffering animal.
Animal Cruelty Boomerangs Back to Humans
Despite Idaho’s exceptional natural beauty, its cultural backwardness nurtures a mentality of bravado and violence whichpermeates many aspects of the human environment. A bumper sticker seen in North Idaho asks: “If it’s tourist season, can we shoot ‘em?” Skinhead credos and shades of white supremacy still resonate across rural sections of the state. Many males believe that to be unarmed is to be ”at the bottom of the food chain.” These are they who “lock and load” at every political disappointment. Among a sizable portion of hunt-hardened machos, empathy for wild animals is suspected to be a symptom of “California Sissy.”
Predictably, it’s not just animals who suffer across the state. A pattern of multi-generational misery and negativity is illustrated by Idaho’s dramatic statistics on suicide and domestic violence. Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates in the USA. In October 2012 alone, 400 calls were made by Idaho residents to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.32 Tabulations by the Child Welfare League of America reveal that in 2009, Idaho generated a whopping 15,153 referrals for child abuse and negligence.33
Hundreds of men, women and children impacted by domestic violence required shelter and crisis counseling in North Idaho during 2010-2011. The National Network to End Domestic Violence reported that in 2010, within a single 24-hour period, 517 victims and their children in Idaho required emergency life-saving services related to domestic violence. The media further reported that deaths related to 2011 domestic violence had risen by forty percent over the previous year “indicative of a trend occurring in North Idaho and throughout the state with domestic violence programs reporting higher demands for services….”34 The 2012 poster boy for Idaho domestic violence is Jeremy Swanson, 27, of Priest River, Idaho. Using the Internet to plan his grisly attack, he allegedly stabbed his wife with both an ice pick and a kitchen knife until she did not move. She was pregnant with twins.35
The New York Times Review of Books reported in March 2012: “It seems that Americans are in the midst of a raging epidemic of mental illness, at least as judged by the increase in numbers treated for it.”36 Idaho’s rampant violence is a smoldering manifestation of this national crisis. In fact, the number of Idaho residents committed to the state’s psychiatric hospitals in 2013 was projected to be nearly double the number committed in 2008.37
What tragically happens in the woods and meadows across Idaho each trapping season is relevant to these complex issues. Sadly, many mentally ill and socially deranged humans find pleasure from hurting creatures helpless to defend themselves. The torture-killing of animals has long been used by occult groups for Satanic rituals. Do Idahoans have a constitutional ”rite” to trap-torture? How many emotionally-twisted people use inexpensive, state-issued permits to torture wildlife as an outlet for their malevolent and destructive emotional inclinations?
As disturbed people become adept at hurting animals, many graduate to abusing humans. Stats on the correlation between animal abuse and domestic abuse are available at the website of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Animal abusers are over five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people than are individuals without a history of animal abuse.38 The FBI has confirmed that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers. “What do Jeffrey Dahmer, the Son of Sam and BTK Killer have in common? Besides all being serial killers, noted an official with the Humane Society of the United States, each had a history of torturing animals.”39
Idaho has a population of about 1.6 million. An army of 456,514 voters approved the constitutional enshrinement of trapping, along with hunting and fishing. They did so even though these activities have long been fully protected by state law and have never been under threat. Roughly one third of voters (165,289) consciously rejected HJR2.
Confronting the more highly evolved and humane minority of Idaho’s population is the question of what to do about the state’s aberrant governing apparatus which opening flaunts and profits from its pathological tendencies towards animal cruelty. We must acknowledge the fact that Idaho’s new constitutional amendment underscores decades of state-sanctioned animal abuse among both domestic animals and wildlife. That Idaho brazenly promotes and profits from the horrors of trap-torture indicates major political dysfunction involving public safety negligence and even criminality in high places. Yet, such destructive leadership can only be possible with popular consent.
Dr. Schweitzer said decades ago that the time would come when “public opinion will no longer tolerate amusements based on the mistreatment and killing of animals. The time will come, but when?” That is the question sane people of Idaho must answer with commitment and activism. The people of California and Washington voted to end trap torture in their states over a decade ago. Trap torture will end in Idaho only when the population has been educated and sensitized to expect and demand humane treatment for all animals. It will come when the Idaho Legislature has been reconstituted by a voting majority tired of fostering a “hobby” which inflicts needless carnage upon many species of animals.
It is time for the people of Idaho to clean up a soulless legislature so compromised that in 2014 it passed an “ag gag” law to prevent undercover investigators from filming egregious animal abuse within Idaho’s agricultural industry. In August 2015, a federal judge ruled this law unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.40 But the freaks are still in power who voted to make gathering proof of animal abuse a crime to be punished with stiffer penalties than those imposed for animal abuse itself.
Meantime, Idaho’s popular drumbeat for gleeful and particularly sadistic bloodshed against its wildlife continues as the 2017-2018 hunting and trapping season is underway. The proverbial excuse about needing food for the freezer is obsolete. The accoutrements of hunting for game are now so expensive that it has become cheaper and more time-efficient to gather food at Costco. These days, it’s not really about feeding the family. There seems to flow a sinister undercurrent based on the lust for power and domination, which some apparently derive from simply making critters die. Idaho Fish and Game brochures available for the 2012-2013 season featured on their first page a large commercial ad which referred to hunting as an “obsession.” The ad stated:
If hunting was just another hobby, we’d be just another store. But it isn’t is it? It’s a way of life. Actually, if you feel the way we do, being out in the wild with a gun in your hands is living.
A similar ad geared to Idaho’s equally exuberant trapper population would likely shout:
If trapping was just another hobby, it would never have become an Idaho constitutional right. But it isn’t is it? It’s a way of life. Being out in the wild, setting snares and traps anywhere and everywhere in order to inflict the maximum suffering upon wildlife, while endangering children and pets is–well, hey, it’s REALLY LIVING!
Idaho has long proven itself as an animal cruelty state regarding both inadequate livestock protection and the inhumane treatment of wildlife. Which normal empathetic emotions are missing within a violent population that approves and commits trap torture against animals like this bobcat? How do we convince future generations to protect, cherish and respect all creatures who are worthy of that which we desire for ourselves?
Take a look at IDFG’s goody-two shoes trapping video which instructs pet owners how to release their animals from a variety of brutal traps set throughout the state. The video implies that releasing a writhing, panic-stricken pet in severe pain can be a simple procedure, as long as you bring along a bag of leashes, ropes, super wire cutters and a hell of a good memory for details gleaned from the following instructions:
1. Senator Lee Heider, age 68, is a Mormon whose legislative bio informs that he is an Eagle Scout. Heider’s 2012 bill, which became HR2 on the ballot, was roundly supported by both houses of the Idaho legislature.
2. Furbearer Progress Report, Study 111, Job 1, Department of Idaho Fish and Game, June 2010 – June 2011, compiled by Craig White, staff biologist, p. 11.
3. “Idaho to Vote on Measure Ensuring Right to Hunt, Fish, Trap,” Spokesman Review, 10-14-2012.
4. American Animal Hospital Association: Leghold Trap Position Statement, www.aahanet.org; American Veterinary Medical Association: New Version of Policy Opposes Conventional Steel-Jawed Leghold Traps, AVMA News, www.avma.org.
5. Proposed Grey Wolf Management by the State of Idaho in the Lolo Elk Management Zones, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, 02-12-2011, p.17.
6. Collateral Damage, bornfree.org.
7. Wolfer, Carter Niemeyer, Bottlefly Press, 2013, p. 253. Niemeyer is a wildlife expert who worked for years with various state agencies involved in animal control projects.
8. The ISO standards and European Commission Proposal for a Proposed Directive on Humane Trapping Standards: Regarding Submersion Traps: “Since hypoxia-induced death in not considered an acceptable method of euthanasia by veterinary and laboratory researchers…it cannot be considered humane.” p.15.
9. Furbearer Progress Report, op. cit. p.11.
10. Idaho Fish and Game Regulations Manual: 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, Upland Game, Furbearers, Licenses and Permits, p.49.
11. Ibid., p. 69. Seasonal updates on the number of wolves shot and trapped can be accessed at the Idaho Fish and Game website under the heading “Wolf Management.” http;//fishandgame.idaho.gov.
12. Latest wolf kill numbers can be accessed at the Idaho Fish and Game website under the heading “Wolf Management.” http;//fishandgame.idaho.gov.
13. Idaho Trappers Association Website: idahotrappersassociation.com.
14. Predatory Bureaucracy, Michael J. Robinson, University Press of Colorado, 2005, p.325.
16. Information reported by Idaho Fish and Game website, November 2011.
17. Idaho Fish and Game class outline for 2011 trapping class: Wolf Trapping/Snaring Class Outline.”
18. In March 2012, Bransford’s grotesque comments and pictures were removed from www.trapperman.com after Internet circulation produced mass outrage. But this information remains in many other archives as an example of typical Idaho hunter/trapper mentality.
19. “Trappers Cruel Laugh,” TheDaily.com, 04-03-12.
20. “Our View: One Trapper’s Barbarism Reflects Badly on Idaho,” Idahostatesman.com, 04-08-2012. The Idaho Statesman is a Boise Newspaper.
21. Humane Society of the United States, www,humanesociety.org.
22. “Idaho to Vote on Measure to Ensure Right to Hunt, Fish, Trap,” Spokesman Review, 10-14-2012.
23. Coeur d” Alene Press, 01-11-2014.
24. Coeur d” Alene Press, 01-28-2014.
25. Letter to the Editor: Watch Out for Your Dogs During Trapping Season, Idaho County Free Press, November 2012.
26. Hearings Before the Ninety-Forth Congress to Discourage the Use of Painful Devices in the Trapping of Animals and Birds, testimony of D. Randall, Washington D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1979.
27. Furbearer Progress Report, op. cit. p. 18.
28. “Idaho to Vote on Measure Ensuring Right to Hunt, Fish, Trap,” Spokesman Review, 10-14-2012.
29. “Wolf Kool-Aid Drinkers,” Nickles Worth, Coeur d” Alene, Idaho, March 9, 2012.
30. ” ‘Neck Snare is a Non-forgiving and Non-Selective Killer,’ Former Trapper Says,” The Sacramento Bee, 04-30-2012.
32. “Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline to Launch Monday,” Coeur d” Alene Press 11-24-2012.
33. “Idaho’s Children 2011,” Child Welfare League of America, www,cwla.org.
34. “Idaho Deaths Related to Domestic Violence Rise,” Coeur d’ Alene Press, 12-29-2011.
35. “Man Accused of Stabbing Pregnant Wife to Death,” Coeur d’ Alene Press, 12-20-2012.
36. “The Epidemic of Mental Illness, Why?” The New York Review of Books,” 06-23-2011. This article lists three best seller books documenting the national mental illness epidemic.
37. “Mental Health Hospitalizations Rising,” Coeur d’ Alene Press, 01-17-2013.
38. “Statistics Supporting the Connection Between Animal Cruelty and Violence Towards Humans,” by W. Sheppard, Suburban Philadelphia Teen Issues Examiner, www.examiner.com. This article provides an excellent list of studies showing the correlation. See also Cruelty Connections (www.pet-abuse,com), which cites a 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals documenting the “500% more likely” statistic.
39. “The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty,” ASPCA: www.aspca.org. See also: Wikipedia for “Psychological Disorders Relating to Animal Cruelty.”
40. “Idaho: Ban on Filming Animal Abuse Unconstitutional,” New York Times, 08-04-15.