Essays and Letters


This was an essay by a college student. Trapping is mainly done for fur so this is very relevant AND very well written:

Taking a look into a once strong industry, shocking facts are revealed. The fur industry brings in an average of $1.5 billion in sales each year. Furs were considered a beautiful and feminine version of clothing by many women, until the public became aware of the horrors that accompany the industry. Activists have been a voice for animals tortured for their fur, making the public aware, and diminishing the old view of fur. Approximately 3.5 million fur-bearing animals are killed each year by trappers, and another 2.7 million are raised on fur 'farms'.

The fur industry is a 'for-profit' venture, meaning methods that maximize production and keep costs at a low rate are used, this often leaves no room for humane treatment. About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks.  Foxes, rabbits, and chinchillas account for most of the remainder. These animals are kept in filthy, cramped, and diseased conditions. Foxes are kept in wire-mesh cages only 2.5 feet square, with up to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are typically kept in 1-foot-by-3-foot cages, again with up to four animals per cage. Animals born at fur farms live very short lives, and because profit is the grand interest, the cheapest methods are used to slaughter the animals. The cheapest methods are also the most inhumane, crude, and cruel methods.

Trapping is also a method for obtaining furs. The suffering that follows trapping makes fur farms seem almost humane. There are various types of traps, such as snares, box traps, cage traps, and the most commonly used, the leg trap. This is a simple yet crude device, and has been banned in 63 countries, and four U.S states. Greta Nilsson exposes the inhumane trap in "Facts About Furs":

When an animal steps on the leghold trap spring, the trap's jaws slam down on the animal's limb. Dr. Robert E. Cape explains that "if the trap is properly anchored, the captured animal will struggle to get loose, mutilating the foot and causing deep, painful lacerations. Or the animal will attempt escape by chewing or twisting off the trapped extremity. Ten to 12 hours after being captured, the animal is still in pain." After a prolonged time, he explains, "will suffer from exhaustion, since they expend such a great amount of energy in attempting to escape. With exhaustion, the animal suffers from exposure, frostbite, shock, and eventually death.

Not all animals suffer that long, some suffer for even longer periods, and face further torture. When the trappers return (often days later) they, like the fur farms, use the cheapest methods possible to kill the animals, and whatever method that won't damage the fur. The lucky few get shot, but the cheaper more physical methods of death are most commonly used. Animals are beaten, stomped to death, or the "Trapper's Method\" of standing on the animal's chest and yanking their hind legs out, crushing their lungs.  The animals used for fur get this treatment, animals that have no value in the fur industry, such as dogs and cats, that get caught in the traps, are left to die and labeled as "trash kills".

The fur industry has begun to feel the pressure of the public in recent years. With sales in North America dropping by 80% and 58.9% in Canada since 1990, 16 million fewer animals were killed in 1990 than in 1989,  and the rate continues to rise. As the Indiana Department of Natural resources stated:

"The 1988-1989 fur harvest may become a landmark season due to the magnitude of the decreases observed in pelt values and total numbers sold."

That statement was a huge win for all the activists and organizations whom fought for the cause back in the mid to late 80s. Along with that victory there were many others, such as the popular fashion magazine, Spiegel. In 1990 Spiegel dropped fur from its catalogue. Also, fashion designers, Giorgio Armani, Bill Blass, and Norma Kamali pledged to never again use furs.

As the fur industry losses business, animals have greater chances of living out their entire lives without the risks of getting captured and tortured to their end. In my conclusion I would like to state why I chose this disturbing subject. The thought that a fur coat is a beautiful, feminine thing is something that I find to be painfully wrong. There is strictly nothing pretty about a skinned animal, or an animal suffering. I came across a report done on an actress for a fashion magazine several months ago, she states how "Americans would probably paint her red for wearing her favorite fur in public. Which is such a shame because furs are ultimately feminine." Since I read this I have not and will never watch a movie she is in, in fact, I encourage others to boycott them. It should not be just Americans that look upon fur with disgust. Humanity in general should look beyond the finished product, see all the suffrage that goes along with it. The entire industry projects a callous barbarian image to me, which is why I feel so strongly that it must be abolished.

Time To End a Twisted Tradition
by Jim Robertson

Unless a severe blow to the head or some psychopathic disorder has rendered them incapable of feeling empathy for others, anyone who witnesses the harrowing ordeal suffered by an animal caught in a leg-hold trap should be appalled and outraged that trapping is still legal in a society that considers itself civilized. The continuation of this horrid, outdated practice in a country governed by the people suggests that either most folks have brain damage, or they are simply unaware of the terrible anguish and desperation a trapped animal goes through.

They must never have heard the cries of shock and pain when an animal first feels the steel jaws of a trap lock down onto his leg. They must never have looked into the weary eyes of a helpless victim who has been caught in a trap for days and nights on end. They must never have come across a leg that an animal had chewed off in order to escape a deadly fate, nor stopped to think how tormented and hopeless one must be to decide to take that desperate action. And they must never have seen an animal struggling through her life on three legs.

I have had several heart-wrenching experiences with the gruesome evils of trapping. On a walk near our home in Eastern Washington, my dog, Tucker, stepped into a steel-jawed, leg-hold trap that clamped down onto his front paw, prying his toes apart. He cried out in terror and frantically tried to shake it off, biting at the trap, at his paw, and at me as I fought to open the jaws of the trap. It continued to cut deeper into his tender flesh and my efforts caused him even more pain, but after many tortuous minutes, I was finally able to loosen the cruel device enough for him to pull free.

Another dog I freed was caught in two leg-hold traps. One was latched onto her front leg, while the second gripped her hind leg, forcing her to remain standing for countless, interminably long hours. Judging by how fatigued and dehydrated she was, she had been trapped there for several days. The sinister traps caused so much damage that a vet had to amputate one of her injured legs.

With no other hope of escape and feeling vulnerable to anyone that comes along, many trapped animals resort to amputating their own leg. Trappers callously try to downplay this grim act of despair by giving it the innocuous knick-name, “wring off.” But if they do not bleed to death or die from infection, these animals spend the rest of their lives crippled and possibly unable to keep up with a demanding life in the wild.

Unlike the fictional character “Little Big Man,” who was distraught to the brink of suicide when he found that an animal had chewed off it’s leg to escape one of his traps, most trappers who find a “wring-off” are indifferent to the suffering they caused as they discard the chewed-off limb and mindlessly reset their trap.

While we were camped near Bowron Lakes Provincial Park in B.C., Canada early last April, my dog found just such a discarded limb--the front leg of a lynx. In the ultimate betrayal of trust, animals protected in parks are fair game for trapping on the lands immediately outside park boundaries. Trappers considerthose lands adjoining parks to be the most “productive,” and will pay tens of thousands of dollars for trap-lines in these areas. I have seen three-legged coyotes near the North Cascades National Park, and within the Grand Tetons National Park. Though it is considered a crime to trap inside those parks, it is perfectly legal to set traps right outside the boundaries of these meager protected lands.

Sidestepping the indisputable cruelty issue, pro-trapping factions try to perpetuate the myth that trapping is “sustainable.” But time and again entire populations of “furbearers” are completely trapped out of an area. The winter after I found wolf tracks in Katmai National Monument on the Alaska Peninsula, all seven members of the pack of wolves who had found a niche in and around that park were killed by trappers. Though they are extinct or endangered in most of the U.S., 1,500 wolves are legally trapped in Alaska each year.

Leg-hold traps are now banned in 88 countries, and some enlightened states have passed voter-approved initiatives to outlaw trapping. But in many U.S. states, as in Canada, the twisted tradition is not only legal, it’s practically enshrined. Compassionate people everywhere must add their voice to the rising call to end this barbarity once and for all.