“She’s upset, she’s emotional about it,” said Zane Wilson, attorney for the trapper, in his closing arguments during last week’s court case involving sprung traps, as quoted by the Juneau Empire. Why is it that many of us choose to ignore or dispute hard facts (e.g. climate change) while at the same time, dismiss reactions to suffering as nothing more than “emotions” — as if emotions were not a valid motive for compassionate action.
Before you stop reading this letter as simply another impassioned rant by an animal rights wacko, please consider this: I have worked on three Iditarod dog sled races as a volunteer veterinarian and have confidently defended the Iditarod against the accusations of those who consider the race inhumane.
Prior to moving to Juneau 25 years ago, I spent the majority of my veterinary career diagnosing and treating cancer in dogs and cats. As a result, I know how not to be “emotional” in front of clients, but I do know how to recognize suffering and fear in animals.
I am opposed to trapping because it is cruel and inhumane. While this may be a minority position amongst Alaskans, it is hard for me to understand how anyone would not feel some “emotion” for an animal — wild, domesticated or human — held in a leg hold trap for days. (Note that there is no ADFG requirement regarding how often trappers must check their trap lines in the Juneau area.)
Lastly, I disagree with the Juneau Empire’s editorial that “trapping in the Last Frontier has a long and storied history.” By definition, any cultural practice has a long and storied history, but that history is not necessarily a justification for continuation of some practices. One only has to consider slavery or the stoning of adulterers when looking for examples.
I am an Alaskan who does not hesitate to oppose trapping because of its inherent cruelty. And while some trappers may believe that injuring or killing non-target animals while trapping is “just the way it is,” I strongly disagree. It is time to change our ways.
Susan E. Schrader