Standing commission crowd debates legal trappingPublished 2:56pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The idea of being able to legally trap furbearers in Polk County has upset many who see it as inhumane while many others say it’s the logical solution for nuisance animals.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners heard from both sides during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 4 with a standing room only crowd where spectators had to stand along three walls of the room.
Commissioners approved sending a resolution to state legislation on Jan. 7 asking that Polk be included in the counties legally allowed to trap furbearers. Since the decision, a petition against trapping has circled the county with most of the residents attending Monday’s meeting being against the board’s action.
Polk County’s N.C. Wildlife Resource Officer Toby Jenkins began with an overview of the law, saying it was created in 1975 when the coyote and beaver population was pretty much nonexistent.
Jenkins said a lot of people think of traps as the large ones with jaws and they see graphic pictures on the internet of animals harmed.
“That’s not the case today,” Jenkins said. “In western North Carolina and other parts of the state the otter would be nonexistent if it weren’t for those traps.”
Jenkins also said that what people don’t realize is that the current law prohibits steel traps off your property, so organizations like Po Kitties aren’t legal under the law.
Jenkins also discussed the restrictions on traps, including that someone has to obtain a trapping license, which is $25. A trapper has to have written permission in order to trap on someone else’s property and leg traps for coyotes are made so the animal can’t jerk and injure their leg, Jenkins said.
“A lot of people think there’s going to be traps everywhere,” said Jenkins. “That’s not the case.”
He said there are currently two trappers in Polk County, saying most people don’t know how to trap and it’s become a lost art.
He said he hasn’t had any problems with pets getting caught in traps but in 2009-2010 there was $2.6 million worth of damage from beavers in the state.
“By passing that law you’re going to assist farmers that have problems with livestock,” Jenkins said.
He said he’s seen sheep, horses and all kinds of pets attacked by coyotes in Polk County.
Trappers are also required to place their name and address on the traps and check them every 24 hours with Jenkins saying he spends lots of hours watching traps and if they don’t check them within 24 hours he gives them a ticket.
Kaye Cannon was the first speaker and said trapping is inhumane.
“Not to mention the suffering the animal goes through in the time they are waiting for the trapper to come and kill them,” Cannon said.
She said she knows officers try but there’s just not enough of them to ensure traps are checked every 24 hours. She also said trapping is indiscriminatory and untargeted animals get trapped.
“No living thing deserves to be tortured to death,” Cannon said. “Killing and trapping is not going to stop rabies.”
She said there are different ways to accomplish the same end and encouraged people not to give up.
Brenda Brock said making it legal opens the county up for illegal trapping. She questioned how they determine the 24 hours asking if there is a timer on the traps.
“It’s not an issue of killing, it’s a humane issue,” Brock said. “We have to consider what we’re doing to animals. It reflects how we interact to other people. Anyone who is willing to trap an animal and keep them in a trap is inhumane.”
She said a dog will chew their leg off just as other animals will to out of a trap. She said the state may have more humane traps but all anyone has to do is walk through a flea market to know others exist.
She also said she thinks part of what’s driving this is money.
“If you’ve got a heart in there at all you would seriously reconsider,” Brock said. “There are too many options out there that we don’t need to be maming and killing.”
Jeanette Larson said in 1975 a law was passed making trapping illegal and over 35 years later the county wants to reintroduce it?
“How progressive is that?” she asked.
Larson also said from the information she has received there has been three confirmed rabies cases in Polk County over the last year so she doesn’t think the county should inject rabies as a reason to allow trapping.
“Let us remember they are all God’s living creatures,” Larson said.
Emmy Summers who started the petition against trapping said as of Sunday night it had received 13,302 signatures.
“Let’s be clear, they weren’t all from Polk County,” she said.
There were probably about 232 signatures from Polk residents, Summers said.
“I believe the majority of our citizens want a humane community,” Summers said. “I’d like to see the resolution be temporarily withdrawn and tabled and a committee formed from all sides.”
She said she sees no reason to rush and the committee could be made up of trappers, residents interested in not trapping and who are interested in other ways to handle the problems.
“I would like to see us have the opportunity to educate ourselves and be more of an integrated community,” said Summers. “I don’t want it to be us and them.”
Deon Dunn said he’s for trapping and he’s baffled how many people are about protecting animal rights when most voted for a president who is for abortion. He said his concern is the hypocrisy in the room for animal rights and not looking out for human rights.
Nancy Pemberton said she is more mortified after hearing some of the information during the meeting. When she hears that someone gets a ticket for not checking a trap line, she said.
“A ticket?” she said.
Pemberton asked how many coyotes have attacked children. One, she said. How many dogs have attacked children, she asked.
Thank God they can’t trap dogs, she said.
Retired wildlife officer John Blanton said the county’s decision to ask for the law to be changed was the right decision.
He said a lot of people don’t understand that House Bill 744 allows people to trap now on their own property or leased property.
“Trapping is going on right now,” Blanton said. “These horror stories aren’t happening.”
He said the wildlife biologists have gone to school and studied wildlife management and by allowing Polk County to return to the state trapping law he thinks they should be the ones making the decisions that are better for the whole state.
Pat Wilson brought pictures of a beaver pond and spoke of eight acres of marketable timber that was destroyed.
“This person has lost $20,000 of marketable timber,” Wilson said.
He also mentioned a friend whose calf and cow were attacked by a coyote.
Wilson said trapping is the fastest way to get these critters under control.
Commissioners did not discuss the resolution following the comments. The resolution, approved unanimously by commissioners on Jan. 7 is currently with state legislators.