Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
Earlier today, my colleague Tracy Coppola testified before the Select Committee on Children, a joint panel of the Connecticut state Legislature. She spoke in favor of House Bill 5324, a bill drafted in part by Born Free USA that would place restrictions on trappers.
Not severe restrictions, mind you. Current law forbids placing leghold traps within 100 feet of any building on private land — a mere 100 feet, a distance that is literally “a stone’s throw” for most people above age 8! HB 5324 would establish a trap-free zone within 1,500 feet of sites often populated with children and animal companions (i.e. dogs and cats). As our press release reports, those sites include “an elementary or secondary school, licensed child day care center, park, playground, public road, highway, public boat launch, roadside rest area, picnic area, campground, blazed trail or state hiking trail.”
This proposed legislation does not outlaw trapping, it does not criminalize leghold traps, and in no way does it guarantee that children, dogs or cats will not be victimized. Who in his right mind would oppose such a mild bill?
No one in his right mind, certainly, but Tracy tells me several trappers crashed a news conference this morning by HB 5324’s sponsor, Rep. Diana Urban (D-Stonington/North Stonington). They loudly insisted their profession is necessary and noble, and poses no threat to non-targeted animals or to people. In other words, they used the usual hackneyed, paranoid arguments based 100 percent on emotion and ignorance, and zero percent on compassion and facts.
One trapper pointed to a trap someone had brought to the news conference and said he’d happily stick his finger in the trap to show how innocuous it is. Happens all the time to him in the field, he said revealingly — although I’m sure the irony was lost on him. No one called his bluff, which in a way is good because I don’t like the idea of any animal (even a trapper) getting hurt. But this guy was asking for it and his broken finger might have given reporters more reason to pay attention to the issue.
At the end of the day it is left up to the Connecticut legislators to approve these mild trapping restrictions, and for law enforcement authorities to enforce them. I will bring all 10 of my fingers together in hearty applause should HB 5324 become law.