Kudos to Eric Dexheimer for his February 3 "Trap Sheet," an informative and unbiased report on trapping.
Wildlife management is difficult enough for trained professional biologists. Our politically correct society has been duped into assuming that wildlife issues should be voted upon by the general populace. This ties the hands of wildlife officials whose job is to manage variable and vulnerable populations in the midst of unchecked urban/suburban development. It turns over control to voters who are easily swayed by emotional "Bambi-itis," as I like to call it. It is based on the Disneyfication of wildlife. Allowing bleeding-heart animal-rights activists like Robert Angell to abuse the political system and impose their belief systems upon society in general and rural landowners in particular is ludicrous.
For the record, I have never trapped, nor have I ever shot coyotes or other varmints. I have friends who are ranchers and farmers who do shoot and trap. And yes, they do it with just cause. It is part and parcel of maintaining balance in an agrarian culture. This is a culture that, very sadly, has become completely foreign to the majority of our citizenry.
I will never forget visiting ranching friends near Fort Morgan. It was late February or early March, calving season. The rancher's grown daughter had just ridden in from checking on her cows, making sure that the birthing was going as nature intends. This is the time of year when no one sleeps much; eighteen- to twenty-hour work days are not unusual. The daughter dismounted in tears and told us the following story: While checking on her cattle, she came upon a pack of coyotes harassing a birthing cow. Two of them were nipping at the brood cow's face while a third was ripping the newborn calf from the cow's uterus. Once the newborn was torn free, the coyotes had their feast. Subsequently, the cow had to be destroyed because of injuries incurred in the attack. The rancher lost a money-making brood cow and a marketable calf. This is reality, not The Lion King!
Dave Croonquist of the Division of Wildlife made a very good point: "'Cruel' is a relative term...What people tend to forget is that there is life outside Saran-wrapped beef in King Soopers." I would add this to his comment: All life comes from death. The most rabid vegetarian is in deep denial if he/she believes otherwise. Their beloved beans and rice are cultivated in fields where plows and combines murder literally billions of invertebrates. The most dedicated organic farmer destroys nests and wild animal habitat every day. Is this cruel? I don't think so. It is the dance of life and death.
I applaud Paul Jensen and all of the farmers and ranchers like him who are finally standing up and speaking out. I find a kind of poetic justice in that they are using the self-same tactics that animal-rights activists have used to attempt to deny them their livelihood. Bravo!
I have just finished reading "Trap Sheet," regarding trapping as it relates to Amendment 14. I have several questions.
First, I thought all wildlife belonged to the State of Colorado. If this wildlife did harm to a landowner, then the state had to compensate him. For example, if a coyote killed your sheep, then the state paid you for the sheep. A rancher is not totally in the red when he loses sheep to coyotes. Eric Dexheimer's article makes it sound like the rancher cannot recoup any money from sheep lost to coyotes.
Second, when homes of people are built in the homes of beavers, who is invading whom? Who was there first? What do you expect when you build a home in the middle of beaver territory? Maybe we should wake up and start respecting the rights of wildlife to live in wild places. Maybe we should start allowing wildness to be a part of our culture and stop invading it.
Third, there are many reasons for the decline in the deer population. I think it is too easy to blame coyotes. What about our invading the homes of deer by building people's homes, building more roads and using ATVs? We may be too quick to blame coyotes when the real reason may be our own behavior. God forbid we should be to blame. If you talk about the declining deer population, I think it is best to mention all the possibilities.
Fourth, I think part of what we are dealing with here is the Western ideal of conquest. We are still trying to conquer everything. One way to do this is by trapping.
Fifth, we, as a people, need to think of alternatives to deal with this problem. The wildlife cannot.