While I fully support I-177, I am not a representative of Montana's for Trap-Free Public lands. I wrote a letter to my veterinary colleagues, and I would like to share what I told them with Gazette readers. As you probably know the Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative, also known as I-177, is on the Nov. 8 ballot.
I take my responsibilities as described in the Veterinarian's Hippocratic Oath very seriously: "Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering..." Therefore we as veterinarians must support this Initiative.
Initiative I-177 is not about a few dogs and cats that get caught annually in traps.
It is not about sneaking in the back door to take away our hunting and fishing rights.
It is not about tarnishing some long wonderful, tradition of our fur-bearing history.
It is not about endangering the public with vermin-ridden public lands.
It is about how we kill animals.
This initiative's purpose is not to threaten Montana's hunting and fishing culture that are viewed as fair chase, designed for individual use, and well regulated. Trapping by contrast is in indiscriminate, excessively cruel, meant to kill en masse, poorly regulated, and done either for profit, recreation or to protect private interests.
The sad truth is that wildlife experience incredible fear, trauma, and extreme stress when held by traps. Immobilized animals experience dehydration, hunger, panic-induced self-mutilation, exposure to weather, and predation. Trapped animals are subject to extreme suffering, panic and agony often for days before death comes. This issue is not about killing animals but about how we do it. When we kill, it should be done as swiftly and painlessly as possible.
I am not a vegetarian. I believe hunting and fishing are great ways to provide meat to our tables. I'm not about animal rights or anti-animal population control. Trapping is not part of "my" Montana heritage and needs to be separated from hunting and fishing. Please consider the inhumane nature of trapping any animal and end million of hours of wildlife suffering. Please vote yes on I-177.
The Veterinary Coalition for a Trap Free Montana lists over 60 practicing veterinarians in full support and agreement with the goal of I-177 to make Montana's public lands trap-free. Their names can be found on this site: http://mtveterinarian.org/trap-free.html. Please join them by supporting I-177.
Alan Applebury, DVM, lives and works in Hamilton.