The request for an outdoor-related program and slide presentation for the Durango Audubon Society was too good to pass up. I was invited by the organization’s president — a friend and past county judge when I was a conservation officer — and he said I could talk about anything of my choice.
I considered Durango Colorado a definite “greenie” oriented town — a liberal college and high percentage of transplants from the land of fruits and nuts, California. I also felt sure the Durango chapter of the Audubon Society was overloaded with environmentalists, protectionists and bunny huggers.
The judge figured I would do a presentation on outdoor photography, writing, some phase of wildlife management or conservation or maybe even some phase of wildlife law enforcement. Ha! When I told him my program was going to be on “TRAPPING,” he just laughed, shook his head and said he wouldn’t miss that program for anything.
I could feel the cold atmosphere in the room when I laid out steel traps, conibears, snares, cyanide guns, live traps and such. I started off by telling them that I wasn’t there to teach them to trap, as I made a good portion of my living at the time shooting and trapping predators and furbearers and didn’t need the competition. I was there to give them the facts on trapping from a trapper’s perspective. I was sick and tired of the B.S. and outright, ignorant lies and misinformation spread by the various “anti” organizations through the news media and literature. This includes their own Audubon Magazine.
I showed them firsthand the various tools I used and showed slides of various predator kills and trapping situations. I included some statistics on proper wildlife management and the need for effective predator and furbearer control.
I even stuck my bare hand into a set number three long spring — the largest I used for trapping — to show that it wasn’t going to break bones or cripple kids or adults in actual use. If you ever decide to use this tactic make damned sure you stick your whole hand in and not just a finger or your demonstration might backfire!!
Quite naturally one of the first questions asked when I opened the session up for questions was my take on the humaneness of trapping. I covered the effectiveness of snares and Conibears and then pointed out that trappers in conjunction with government wildlife biologists had long ago developed means to alleviate much of the potential suffering by a trapped animal by attaching a small tab or capsule containing a strong tranquilizer to the jaws of the trap. A caught animal would ingest it and be sedated for a given length of time or with some substances tested, painlessly euthanized. However, I pointed out wryly that people — and quite possibly some attending this program — choose to smoke, snort, ingest or inject the substances used to produce such products. The ingredients were outlawed and not available for such humane use. This drew some laughter and applause and produced some very red faces.
After the program I got more positive input than any program I had ever produced. There was also just enough negative reaction to know that there was a certain percentage of folks whose emotions could never be swayed by facts.
When I was with the division of Wildlife it always griped me when our I&E department blew their horn about what a good job they were doing by targeting hunting and fishing organizations with their information programs. Hell, those folks were already pro-hunting, so what was gained? I felt they should be targeting non-hunters and reaching out to the little old ladies in tennis shoes, garden clubs and such organizations. Present solid facts to them on game management, especially where controversial subjects like predator control is concerned. When push came to shove in Colorado and the East Slope liberals got an initiative on the voting ballot to outlaw all trapping, the game and fish department did nothing. They obviously didn’t want to get involved in something that controversial. Sportsmen’s license dollars at work? Yeah right!
Since that time, I’ve presented many talks and slide programs to non-hunting organizations and groups. I always include some hard-core hunting, trapping and predator management material in the program. On occasion, I’ve purposely baited an anti or two in the crowd, who invariably let their mouth overload their ass and give me an opportunity to override and stifle their attention seeking, emotion-driven diatribe with simple facts and personal experience to the contrary of what they have been misled and misinformed into believing. On every such occasion I’ve had attendees often accompanied by youngsters thank me for educating them to the reality and importance of all phases of wildlife management, especially where predators are concerned.
It’s a shame the personnel in many of the wildlife agencies don’t have the intestinal fortitude, backbone or desire to invest a greater portion of the sportsmen’s dollar in driving home the facts on the importance of predator hunting and trapping’s role in big- and small-game management. In my experience, a large portion of non-hunters and antis are educable when presented with the facts. An information investment that should be a “no brainer.”
Featured image: iStock