The 2017 Vermonter poll conducted by UVM’s Center for Rural Studies included questions asking Vermonters how they feel about the use of steel leg-hold traps, body crushing traps, and drowning traps to kill wildlife. This is a relevant issue now as the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board is considering extending the otter trapping season. The poll results revealed that 75% of Vermonters believe that the use of these traps should be outlawed. And 70% of respondents believed that Vermont wildlife policies should prohibit the killing of wildlife without intent to consume or use their remains or if they are causing damage to property.
The results are not surprising because, in my experience, most Vermonters are shocked that trapping is still legal. They react with outrage and disgust to learn that animals are left to suffer, frightened and vulnerable to predation and the elements while awaiting their deaths. And even more people are appalled when they learn that there are no restrictions on how trapped animals can be killed by the trappers. Common methods for killing trapped animals include: bludgeoning; stomping on the animal to crush its heart and lungs; stranglingT; drowning and shooting.
All of these “practices” are legal under Vermont law and supported by Vermont’s own Fish and Wildlife Department. As a veterinarian friend of mine said recently, “If they were caught doing this to a cat or a dog, they would be thrown in jail.”
Vermonters can email the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board and ask them to deny the petition to extend otter trapping season. Otters are semi-aquatic animals who can take eight minutes to drown as they struggle to free themselves - we want this banned altogether, not more of it! You can find details on Protect Our Wildlife’s website.