On Tuesday, I stood in the windy entryway of the Ashland Community Food Co-op to gather signatures for TrapFree Oregon’s ballot initiative. I was happy to have Wally Sykes by my side, his enthusiasm for ending fur trapping in our state is contagious. Wally started TrapFree Oregon (TFO) after his beloved dog Kumo was caught in a leg hold trap five years ago. Until recently, Wally was a one-man show, running a website and spreading information about the travesties of trapping. A group in Bend has joined in and now there are several others sharing the load as well.
We were collecting the first batch of required signatures to make the ballet initiative a reality in November of 2014. This initiative would make it illegal to trap any animal for commerce in raw fur or body parts, or for recreation. Also, the use of Compound 1080 to poison animals would be illegal. The Conibear trap would be banned. There are exemptions for the trapping of animals for scientific purposes and of course, one can still set mouse traps. Trapping would be permitted in other circumstances as well, such as for the protection of endangered species and to protect human welfare. Hunting and fishing would not be affected at all.
Wally displayed not a hint of shyness as he approached people passing our table. “Hello!” he said. “Would you like to help us end fur trapping in Oregon?” “End what?” many responded, surprised that fur trapping still exists, their idealistic Ashland minds assuming trapping had gone the way of the musket. I know, I thought the same thing until recently.
Over two hours we collected eighty signatures and a couple dozen email addresses. A handful offered to volunteer for TFO. Would you be willing to help? This is definitely a grass-roots project and all hands are needed. Donations are welcome as well.
I learned a ton from Wally. For example, there are now 847 registered trappers in Oregon and the average income they derive from trapping is only $1,200 a year. A few make more but most trap only for recreation, therefore TFO’s initiative will not be putting people out of a job. Over 25,000 animals, including bobcat, otter, fox, skunk, and coyote were trapped last trapping season in Oregon. These doesn’t count the ones not reported–the dogs and cats and other unintentional victims such as raptors.
The drive to end trapping is an easy sell in liberal Ashland. Wally and I make plans to set up our table here again in mid-December.
Other news in the anti-trapping movement comes from Footloose Montana.This organization came close to qualifying for a ball0t initiative in 2009-10. They received nearly 31,000 signatures supporting trap-free public lands and were an agonizing 1,500 short of meeting the requirement for the initiative. Let’s help them make this a reality in the future. Their Facebook and website now have a DONATION button. Click it and send what you can.