Anti-trapping groups in Oregon are pushing legislation that would effectively ban trapping in the state. The following message regarding the legislation was written by Bob Gilman of the Oregon Trappers Association. If you’d like to help the OTA beat the bill, Bob included contact information and an address to send donations for the Oregon Trappers Legislative Defense Fund near the end of his message.
Protect Trapping Rights in Oregon
By Bob Gilman
Oregon Trappers Association
Commercial trapping and the fur trade in Oregon are under attack. Ballot Initiative Petition #5, the anti-trapping measure pushed by Trap Free Oregon and other animal rights groups, would end Oregon’s historic fur industry and proud trapping traditions that date back to the early 1800s. The initiative, which would appear on the Nov. 4, 2014 general election ballot, would outlaw fur trapping and severely inhibit animal damage control.
Members of a coalition to protect trapping have appealed the certified ballot title of the initiative to the Oregon Supreme Court and are waiting for the court to approve or reject the certified ballot title. If it is approved, proponents will begin gathering the 87,213 valid signatures required to get the initiative on the ballot for the November 2014 election. They have until July 3, 2014 to collect their signatures.
Key Components of the Ban
Initiative Petition #5 would ban the use of all Conibear traps and body-gripping traps and outlaw fur trapping and fur trading in the state. Trapping would be banned on public land, except in extremely narrow circumstances. Finally, the ban would require all traps, whether set by private or government trappers, to be checked every 24 hours. Each and every violation would result in a Class A misdemeanor charge (up to 1 year in jail and $6,250 in fines).
The initiative would put many trappers and animal damage control professionals out of business. Commercial trappers often cover thousands of acres, and it is not possible for them to check every single trap within a 24-hour timeframe. The increased liability imposed on trappers would result in less efficient animal damage control at a greater financial cost to consumers.
Sales of furtaker’s licenses and hunting licenses for furbearers, as well as fur dealer’s licenses, on average, total approximately $100,000 in revenues for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife each year. A ban on the fur trade would eliminate this financial benefit to the state.
Initiative Petition #5 would ban the use of foot snares, the primary tool used for catching bears. Forest managers estimate that bears are responsible for approximately $10 million to $15 million in damage to Oregon’s forests in some years. The ban would also prohibit the use of the Conibear #110, the most effective tool for trapping mountain beavers, which can cause millions of dollars of damage to forest stands.
A 2009 report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimated that predators killed 7,700 sheep and 3,800 cattle in Oregon that year. Coyotes are mainly responsible for these losses. The anti-trapping initiative would prohibit the use of most snares that are commonly used to control problem coyotes. Without these trapping capabilities, ranchers would lose even more livestock each year.
Many local governments employ private trappers to respond to animal damage problems on municipal public lands. The ban would outlaw trapping on public land, unless all other non-lethal methods to remove the animal have been exhausted and a study that supports trapping as the only remaining option is made available to the public.
Oregon’s Fur Trade
Outlawing fur trapping would create a substantial disincentive for trappers to target certain species. The state’s economy would lose the revenue generated by the fur trade and the money that trappers spend on fuel, food and supplies. The pelt of any furbearer caught during the course of animal damage control would be wasted and could not be used to offset the costs related to animal damage control work.
The loss of the fur industry would also mean a future shortage of experienced animal damage workers, since this is where many of them gain their knowledge and skills.
While the supporters of the anti-trapping initiative claim that traps present a great danger for dogs and other pets, the facts say otherwise. In 2001, legislation was passed that requires veterinarians to file a report with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University when they treat an animal they suspect has been caught in a trap. Since then, only 12 reports have been filed.
In June 2012, the ODF&W established new regulations, based on public input, that require traps to be located far from public trails, which is one of the primary complaints of the initiative’s sponsors. We should let the new regulations take effect and see how they work before deciding to gut trapping rights.
The Oregon electorate has voted down trapping bans twice before. The animal rights activists behind the current petition are merely wasting the state’s time and money at the expense of local taxpayers.
We urge you to support sound wildlife management and oppose any ban on trapping in Oregon. Should that anti-trapping initiative make it on the ballot and pass in our state, it would embolden animal rights activists to seek similar bans across the country.
Donations to protect trapping in Oregon can be sent to the following address:
Oregon Trappers Legislative Defense Fund
Attn: Don Nichols
3317 N. Holly Street
Canby, OR 97013