To the Editor:
The recent tragedy of a raccoon in a body-gripping Conibear trap, found drowned in a New Canaan swimming pool, joins the stories of countless other animals who have been killed by traps, trappers, government agencies (DEEP) and property owners. This archaic, cruel and flawed approach to conflicts with wildlife needs to stop. There are humane, effective, sustainable solutions available.
On a winter’s morning in 2016, I watched in horror as a beautiful fox frantically struggled to free herself from a leg -old trap on a neighbor’s property in New Canaan. This trap was legally set and baited to catch coyotes by a licensed trapper, at the request of the property owner. Words can not adequately describe the desperation and suffering this fox went through.
This non-target fox could have also been another animal, including a bird of prey — or your roaming dog or cat — attracted by the bait. Between five to 18 non-target animals are estimated to be trapped (and most killed) for every target animal caught. While they’re trying to free themselves from the trap, not only are they breaking bones and teeth, often twisting or biting off a limb, but they’re also helpless and vulnerable as prey to other predators. Trappers are only required to check their traps once every 24 hours.
And to what end?
Studies show that trapping/killing coyotes only serves to increase the coyote population, as transient coyotes move in to fill the void and produce multiple and larger litters of pups. So trapping/killing only increases the chance of conflicts.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are just some of the states that have banned or severely restricted the use of leg-hold traps. Connecticut should do the same. Westport is the only town in Connecticut that wisely has a longstanding ban on trapping. Unfortunately, it is currently being challenged.
As wildlife deserves to be respected and protected, so do our companion animals. That is our responsibility. Relying on trapping wildlife to protect our dogs and cats is an unrealistic prospect. Leaving pets unattended in unprotected yards, along with other free forms of food, compost or trash only invites predators. Physical coyote-proof fences, catios, leash walking, supervision, removing outdoor food sources and attractants, are all sensible, productive precautions we can take. Hazing and carrying hazing tools on walks, which cause coyotes to be fearful of humans, are essential.
The bottom line is that trapping only magnifies conflict with wildlife and threats to our companion animals. Education and effective, humane solutions are the answer.