On Again, Off Again

Things are happening fast as I write this, so who knows how it will stand when you read it. But at this moment, at least, trappers have apparently dodged a bullet.

The bullet comes as a proposed total fur trade ban in Israel — no buying, selling, manufacturing or possession of any items made wholly or partly from fur. A bill to that effect has been scheduled for consideration several times this year by Israel’s lawmakers. It’s been dropped each time, most recently Sept. 2, thanks largely to pro-fur lobbyists who stood up to the International Anti-Fur Coalition, the proposal’s primary backers.

Trapper & Predator Caller Editor Jim SpencerWhy is this important for Western Hemisphere trappers? After all, Israel is a small country, and its fur trade is tiny ($1 million in 2009, compared to $11 billion worldwide). Why should we care what happens there?

Because of the domino effect. Tiny though Israel’s fur trade might be, making it illegal in that country would be the proverbial foot in the door. Let them get that foot in there, and anti groups such as the IAFC would be in better position to keep on kicking at the worldwide structure of the fur trade. And the anti-fur groups are well aware of that.

“A ban on all fur throughout the country would be a world first — a major stand against the animal cruelty inherent in the worldwide fur trade — and it would set an example that other countries would look to and follow,” said a spokesman for the Humane Society International, which also backs the proposed Israeli legislation.

Anti-fur fanatics aren’t bothered by inconvenient things such as facts and truth. They spread lies however they can. Lies like trappers catch dozens to hundreds of nontargets (depending on who’s telling the lie) for every target animal. Lies like traps cut off the feet of the animals we catch. Lies like we skin our catches while they are still alive.

Every knowledgeable trapper and outdoorsman knows how ridiculous those claims are. But notice the adjective in that last sentence — knowledgeable. Most anti-fur, anti-hunting, antitrapping zealots are anything but. They actually believe those lies, or at least most of them do.

Paul McCartney, of Beatles fame (and Wings, too, for you sub-geriatric trappers), said this: “Fur is cruel and unnecessary. To skin an animal alive for a product nobody needs is beyond comprehension. … By banning such a cruel industry, Israel would provide a shining example in care and compassion that others would be sure to follow.”

There’s that “skinning alive” stuff again. I wish Sir Paul would try to skin, say, a live bobcat or maybe a wolverine. I also wish he’d make a trip to Siberia or interior Alaska some February. He might change his mind about a couple of things. “A product nobody needs,” indeed.

But that’s besides the point here, which is: We must stay awake and vigilant at all times, and fight off every one of these assaults against trapping and the fur trade. When the antis gain a toe-hold somewhere, they’re hard to root out. If you doubt that, ask trappers in Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado and Massachusetts. They’ve had restrictive trapping regulations or outright bans for years. It’s way harder to get an unfavorable law repealed than it is to keep it off the books in the first place.

Right now you might be thinking, "Hey, man, it’s trapping season. Don’t bother me with that stuff now. All I want to do is go make a few sets." Me, too. But while we’re working hard in the field and fur shed, the anti-fur, anti-trapping advocates are also working hard, trying their best to take it all away.

We’d best not forget that.

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