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Oregon fur trapping begins 12/1 and runs through 3/15. During the '08-'09 season, 765 active trappers (out of 1133 licensed) killed 19,148 animals using leg-hold traps, neck snares and Conibear traps. In calendar '08, the APHIS (Dept. of Agriculture) killed 8,342 animals using the same plus leg snares (mostly on bears), cages and gas canisters (mostly M44). Nearly all these animals suffered a protracted and torturous death.
While the relentless slaughter by the US Government can only be stopped at the federal level, fur trapping in Oregon can be stopped by its citizens. Portland has seen successful protests against fur retailers. The campaign against fur farms waxes and wanes, but little has been done recently against fur trapping since the unsuccessful voter initiative in 2000. In order to build momentum towards a new initiative, TrapFree Oregon is asking for your help in educating the public. If you're attending any meetings or rallies, please help by printing and distributing brochures from the TrapFree Oregon website (trapfreeoregon.org). Two are available from the home page, one on how to free your pet from a trap and one describing the fur trapping industry. They're easy to print directly from the website. And if you're really gung-ho and can afford $1.50, order a bumpersticker. Thanks.

homepage: homepage: http://trapfreeoregon.org

Please also SET THEM FREE 20.Nov.2009 12:39


If you live in the rural areas, or if you can make field trips out here, please make it your work to SET THEM FREE. Believe it or not, fur trapping is really a lot more common in Oregon than you might think. You can see them out here in Rural Cascadia, parked along side roads, sneaking into the brush along streams and rivers, near animal attractions, along fences, along trails and etc. It can be difficult to find their traps, but it CAN be done. The best scenario is to FIND THOSE FUCKING TRAPS before they hurt anyone. Get RID of them. This, ironically, stupidly, and typically, is against the law. It is perfectly legal to trap and kill indiscriminately on public lands, but having the compassion and moral character to remove the threat, danger, and public nuisance of these things is illegal. So keep an eye out, work quickly, be discreet, and GET IT DONE. Then quickly disable and dispose of the trap somewhere where it cannot ever kill again.

The next best scenario is to find the animals in the traps before the trapper, and hopefully before the animal has become so cold, hurt, hungry, and dehydrated that you have to find friendly vet care. Be careful here. You will need a sensitive temperament that can calm a wild animal enough to approach. You will need thick gloves. There are some tools I find useful - thick gloves wrapped with duct tape to help keep sharp teeth from digging in too far; a long, sturdy stick or preferably, two of them; a thick moving blanket; some peroxide or betadine.

You are most likely to find smaller animals (sadly, often domestic cats or dogs, and very often "throw away" animals that would otherwise be killed and then simply discarded by the trapper, such as opossums, rats, squirrels, and etc.). But you can also occasionally come across larger animals such as bob cats, lynx, coyotes, and very rarely, cougars or even bears. (I have never come across a trapped bear, and no idea what I might do if I did. I think this would be a very rare case indeed.)

Remember that a bite is a distinct possibility, and that those teeth are SHARP. Be as careful as possible, for you and for the animal.

Use whatever technique works for you. I'm sure there are lots of ways to do this. I try to lay a thick moving blanket or coat over the animal to help immobilize it and to help direct its teeth away from me. Sometimes I can stand in the edges of the blanket with the animal under it, and then try to get just the leg and trap exposed. If there is an obvious wound, I use peroxide or betadine and just dump it over the wound. (If you can't do this, the animal will dress the wound herself by licking it later. But this does help prevent infection.) I use two sticks to get the trap open - this is hard. Practice before going out if you can. It sucks to buy traps, but it's good to try this out on a trap before you have to do it with a really upset and stressed out wild animal in it. Yikes! You can find traps in many feed stores. Gross. Try buying one, practicing with it a LOT, and then returning it as "defective." (First, make sure it actually IS defective before you bring it back.)

Once the trap is open, that animal is going to FIGHT LIKE HELL to get free if she needs to, so get out of her way quickly. It's good to have her under the blanket, and then jump back as soon as the trap is open. You can get the blanket later, after the animal is free and safely away from the scene. (If there is more than one person doing this, one can help to immobilize the animal with a large stick over the animal's back, to help direct it away from you once the trap is open. You step back and release the stick at the same time.

Sometimes, an animal is in need of veterinary attention. If you don't have the skills, you should line up a good vet or wildlife rehabilitator who is willing to help first. Because a regular vet might turn you in to ODFW, killers of animals, and might turn the animal over to be killed as a "vector species." So have someone with some basic animal vet skills in mind, just in case, and have a carrier back in your vehicle. Most minor injuries will be taken care of by the animal herself. Even some serious ones, like a chewed off leg, have been known to heal and the animal can go on to live her life. You're role is to give her a chance.

The real trick is to find the traps. And again, you want to find them before they hurt anyone. The best way to do that is to watch the trappers. They park near the road and walk in to set the traps. Often, but not always, fairly near the place where they park, because they're going to need to return here to check their line. You will see them stop, set a trap, go a ways, stop again, set another trap, and etc. The next best way is to know where a trapper is likely to set a trap, and that takes knowing the animals. They will look for trails and places likely to be used by an animal to set a trap, and then they will go to GREAT lengths to hide the trap - from the animal, and from you. It's VERY hard to find a trap without an animal in it, and believe it or not, often even WITH an animal in it. (I have walked right up onto a trap with a bobcat in it, without even SEEING it. Almost walked right past. The bob cat was cowering under a log, looking right at me, quiet as a mouse, and I almost didn't even see her.) So you will have to go out many times, even to find just one trap. It takes a lot of persistence and practice. The more of us out there doing this, the more traps we will find.

Occasionally, a trapper will mark where the trap is in some way, but it's not always easy to spot. (This is especially true of the awful traps designed to catch beaver, muskrats and otters. They are designed to drown the animal by springing under the water. You can often find a stick poking up out of the water near where the trap is set. Look around very carefully any time you see a stick poking up out of the water. Get that trap OUT of there and destroy it.

If you see a trapper, try to avoid him or her (almost always him). Don't let them know you're watching. If they see you, act like a hunter or a fellow trapper. If you can pull this off, they may actually even show you where they're setting their traps, but not necessarily. (I often try to dress like a hunter, but I think they smell the AR all over me. Best to just avoid them.) And if you run into a trapper while you're rescuing an animal or disabling and removing a trap, try like hell to avoid a confrontation. They are often armed, often complete assholes, and believe it or not, they have Johnny Law on their side. So play dumb if you're removing traps. Try not to let them see the trap in your hand and get out fast. Be safe! Best to go with friends. If they see you and suspect you're messing with their traps, get the fuck out of there asap and make sure to get rid of any traps that are in your vehicle, in case they call Johnny Law.

One more thing. The snow is YOUR FRIEND. A trap that is almost impossible to find in the dry ground can suddenly be very visible if there's snow on the ground. An animal caught in a trap will often trample a muddy circle all around the trap. And although trappers are often cagey about this, trying to check traps when they won't leave a trail, they do have to check them some time so if there's a lot of snow around, look for their trails. (This also works in the mud, but snow is the best for this.)