Trapping can be a necessity

After reading the recent editorial condemning the trapping of animals and urging a ban on the practice, I'll confess, I have been one of those evil trappers. I also don't live in the black-and-white (right and wrong) world that the author sees through her rose-colored glasses.

For almost 10 years, I operated a 500-hen, pasture-based egg-laying operation on our farm near Central Point. During those years, I sold thousands of dozens of eggs through the Ashland Food Co-op and other local outlets.

The electric net fencing that I used to contain my hens as I rotated them around my pastures effectively deterred most predators. However, from time to time, the neighborhood coyotes would learn that they could jump over the netting without getting shocked. Once in the chicken pen, usually after dark with the hens on the roost, it was pretty easy pickings for the coyotes.

A typical scene the next morning when I went out to gather eggs would be a handful of dead hens spread around the pen, apparently killed for fun, with more parts of chickens and feathers scattered in the grass outside the pen. The surviving hens had obviously been stressed by the previous night's ordeal. And the coyotes would tend to return about every fourth night to repeat their activity.

So, I had a choice to make. Either do nothing and watch my flock be eliminated over the next couple of months, or trap the coyotes. I chose the latter. Usually within a couple weeks of the initial predation, I was able to trap two or three coyotes and the problem was over.

I dealt with coyote predation of my flock about three times during the decade I was producing eggs. If there had been a ban on trapping in place at that time, I would have soon been permanently out of the egg business.

Only one time did I trap a pet when my neighbor's dog was wandering onto my property and it was released unharmed. One side effect of reducing the coyote population was an increase in ringneck pheasant sightings a year or so later.

The animal-rights activists and the environmental extremists like to appeal to our emotions and hope we don't use our common sense. They use the rare, tragic death of a pet in a trap to justify their agenda while they ignore the much greater risks to pets from causes such as motor vehicles and human neglect. As we have read recently, a pet is more likely to be killed by another pet than in a trap, but I don't hear the animal-rights activists advising pet owners to avoid pet-to-pet contact.

I believe the effort to ban trapping is just one piece of the extreme environmental agenda of restricting the utilization of our natural resources. Without the wealth that is created by the wise use of our forests, farmlands, rangelands, mineral resources and water, our country is doomed to a continuation of the economic stagnation we've experienced recently. Don't let the people who devastated the timber industry over a hypothetical risk to the spotted owl but now turn a blind eye to the killing of thousands of raptors by wind-power turbines set our public policy. How many more jobs do we have to lose and how much higher does the cost of what we produce in this country have to go before we tell the people promoting the extreme environmental agenda "Enough!"?

Larry Martin is a farmer in the Central Point area.

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