Monday, March 30, 2009

Beta testing S.B. 994, Connecticut's proposed fur trapping ban

S.B. 994, Connecticut's proposed fur trapping ban

March 23, 1:47 PM
S.B. 994, "An Act Concerning Leghold Traps,"
<> has been
approved by a vote of 22-8 in the Connecticut General Assembly's Environment Committee, and will now be considered by the legislature. If enacted, the law will largely ban the use of leghold and Conibear traps in the state.Proponents of the measure argue that passage of S.B. 994 will finally end an unacceptably cruel practice. Opponents argue that trapping is not inhumane,and that it is an important tool for wildlife management in Connecticut.In 1996, voters in Massachusetts approved an anti-trapping ballot referendum expertly pushed by animal-rights organizations. Formally titled the Wildlife Protection Act, the law is more popularly known as Question One. Like S.B.994, Question One bans the use of leghold and Conibear traps. The Massachusetts experience, particularly with regard to management of the state's beaver population, is a useful case study for understanding the practical implications of S.B. 994.Prior to Question One, Massachusetts had a healthy beaver population estimated at approximately 23,000 animals. Homeowners and others dealing with occasional beaver problems, such as the destruction of trees and the flooding of yards and basements, could call MassWildlife <> , the Massachusetts agency that is roughly the equivalent of the Wildlife Division of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). MassWildlife would typically refer the caller to the Massachusetts Trappers Association. The MTA would recommend a trapper, who would come out during the trapping season, generally at no cost to the landowner, and kill the beaver.As in Connecticut, most Massachusetts beaver trapping was done with Conibear traps set in the water. Conibears are not leghold traps. They are lethal traps that work on much the same principle as the familiar mousetrap. A beaver is guided or baited into putting its head into the trap, triggering stiff wire arms that snap down on the animal's neck, dislocating the
beaver's spine and killing it.Question One banned Conibears but not "humane" box traps and suitcase traps.In Massachusetts, these traps are used to capture beavers alive and unharmed so that they can be killed later. Relocating beavers is illegal in Massachusetts. Box traps and suitcase traps make trapping, which is demanding work in the best of circumstances, even more difficult. They're
bulky, heavy, and time consuming to carry and set. They're also expensive,and with the market for furs so depressed, it's hard for a trapper to
justify replacing his Conibears with cage traps that may well cost more
money than a successful trapper will realize from the furs he takes in a
whole season's trapping.
The ban on Conibear traps very nearly ended fur trapping for beavers in
Massachusetts. In the last trapping season before the ban took effect,
trappers harvested 1,136 beavers in the state. By the 1997-98 season, the
number of beavers killed by trappers had dropped to ninety-eight.
Animal-rights organizations hailed the passage of Question One as a signal
victory for their cause. Then things began to get complicated.
Suddenly relieved of the pressure of its main predator, the beaver
population in Massachusetts grew explosively. By 2000, the population was
estimated to have tripled to about 70,000 animals. As the beaver population
increased, reports of damaged private property, blocked culverts, and
flooded roads due to beaver activity skyrocketed. Public water supplies in
towns like Sterling
> and Chelmsford
<> were contaminated by
flooding caused or exacerbated by beavers.
Massachusetts had long had some problem beavers, but beavers were now a
widespread problem. As environmentalist firebrand Ted Williams wrote
<> in Audubon
magazine, "We've converted a resource to a pest."
The 1996 passage of Question One, which banned the use of leghold and
Conibear traps in Massachusetts, led to a dramatic increase in the state's
beaver population. By 2000, beavers had become serious pests, and their
activities were flooding highways, contaminating drinking water, and causing
extensive damage to private property.
In 2000, the Massachusetts legislature responded by modifying Question One
to allow local boards of health to issue emergency permits for the use of
Conibear traps, not just during trapping season but at any time of year, to
destroy beavers that pose a threat to human health and safety. This action
completed a fundamental shift in beaver management that had begun with
Question One four years earlier. Instead of actively managing the beaver
population strategically and across the state, Massachusetts now manages
beavers reactively through local damage control in an endless series of
small crises. With much of the state's beaver control now in the hands of
town health boards with no reporting requirements back to the state,
MassWildlife, the agency ostensibly responsible for wildlife management in
Massachusetts, can no longer even accurately estimate the size of the
state's beaver population.
Massachusetts homeowners once had their beaver problems resolved largely by
recreational fur trappers-at no cost. Now many homeowners pay nuisance
animal control operators hundreds of dollars, and sometimes more, for
trapping, fencing, tree wrapping, and the installation of flow-control
devices in beaver ponds. Massachusetts taxpayers have also taken a financial
hit, as highway departments and towns pay for beaver-control services.
Additional concerns about the growing beaver population have arisen,
including an increase in mosquito breeding habitat and a possible link to
mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus.
And what about the beavers? Because of the large number of problem beavers
now being trapped for damage control, it's estimated that the number of
beavers being killed annually by trapping in Massachusetts (based on 2006
data, which are the most recent available) is higher than the number killed
before Question One.
When good technology managers consider purchasing a new hardware or software
product for their company, they make certain that the product has been
subjected to adequate beta testing to ensure that it will work in their
operating environment. As the General Assembly considers S.B. 994
<> , it needs to
look at Question One. Massachusetts has, in effect, done the beta testing
for Connecticut's proposed trap ban. The results couldn't be clearer. It
doesn't work.
When I began looking into the issues surrounding S.B. 994, I was about as
neutral as a person can be on an extraordinarily polarizing subject. Since
then, I've spent many hours reading about trapping: scientific papers, news
stories, blogs, and a lot of anti-trapping literature. I've spoken and
corresponded with trappers, wildlife biologists, and animal-rights
advocates. I've been privileged to meet thoughtful, gracious, helpful folks
on all sides of the debate. And I'm not neutral anymore. S.B. 994 is
flat-out bad legislation.
The people who are providing the main impetus for S.B. 994 surely have good
intentions. The Humane Society of the United States <>
(HSUS) is the key lobbyist for the trap ban. HSUS is a smart organization
that does much good work on behalf of animals. No one should confuse them
with groups on the lunatic fringe <> of the
animal-rights movement. Even folks who vehemently disagree with HSUS on
policy matters should still recognize that the organization's local staff
and volunteers are sensible people who genuinely care about Connecticut and
its wildlife.
Senator Ed Meyer <> led the charge
for S.B. 994 in the Environment Committee, and seems likely to perform the
same role in the General Assembly. Senator Meyer represents the 12th Senate
District <> , where I happen to
live. He's a good man-an effective legislator who works hard on behalf of
his constituents and the people of Connecticut. I've voted for him twice,
and I hope to do so again. But even good legislators and smart organizations
sometimes make mistakes. S.B. 994 is a mistake. It will be best to tell them

Support Your fellow sportsmen:
"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang
Benjamin Franklin

Friday, March 27, 2009

Collarum Testimonial

Just sending a quick note to say this trap works great. I have captured some hard to catch dogs with it that I do not think I would have captured otherwise. Your support has also been excellent. I e-mailed you several months ago in reference to a hard to catch dog. You sent another bite piece and additional instruction, which helped. While the Collarum did not catch that dog (she was eventually captured when she had puppies), it has caught other dogs that would have taken considerable time to capture. So, thank you for an outstanding product. I just wish we would have had it when trying to get those dogs which took us years to apprehend!
Deputy S.M. Jessee
Caroline County Sheriff's Office
Division of Animal Control
14080 Devils Three Jump Rd.
Milford, VA 22514
Office: (804) 633-9041 Fax: (804) 633-2084


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ban on Trapping Threatens Integrity of Connecticut River Flood Protection Dikes
West Hartford, CT. (March 26, 2009) – State Legislators may soon be voting on a controversial measure to ban certain kinds of traps in Connecticut, including traps currently used by wildlife professionals to control burrowing animals in the Connecticut River levee system. The Connecticut Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association, Inc. (CTNWCO Assoc., Inc.) expressed alarm at this proposal, citing millions of dollars in repairs to the levee system attributed to wildlife problems over the past several years. The same Legislators considering this ban have already allocated millions of taxpayer dollars to protect the safety and property of residents in the areas of these  levees. "We are deeply concerned about the state's ability to continue to keep the population levels of these animals in check without these vital tools," said Tom Logan, Vice President and spokesman for the CTNWCO Association. The General Assembly's Environment Committee recently approved a bill co-sponsored by Hartford state Senator John Fonfara and Plainville Representative Elizabeth "Betty" Boukus to ban foothold and Conibear traps in the state.
According to Nick Casparino, a Civil Engineer for the town of East Hartford, the town last year alone paid a private contractor $4 million to repair nearly four miles of town-owned dikes that protect it from the Connecticut River. The town has allocated $25 million to rehabilitating the dike system. Casparino said that more than $58,000 has been paid to the contractor so far for controlling and repairing wildlife damage to the dike system, but the project is still ongoing. Mr. Casparino said that the US Army Corps of Engineers is requiring an ongoing program to control wildlife and remediate the damage caused by wildlife, which is very extensive since they must bring in heavy equipment every time an animal burrows into the earthen dike.
According to a 2005 report on the state's dams, "Dam Safety in Connecticut", compiled by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Water Management, Connecticut had 22 deficient dams in 2004. The US Army Corps of Engineers' 2007 report on National Inventory of Dams indicated that there are 468 earthen dams in Connecticut, representing 64% of the 723 dams in the state. This report also indicated that 62% of the dams are privately owned, and 18% are owned by local governments. Wesley Marsh of the bureau of Water Management stated, "It will be hard to tell a private levee owner that they need to remedy a wildlife issue, then have the wildlife department tell them that they cannot trap the animal. Especially if they had a trapper previously managing the beaver population for no charge."
According to USA Today's December 22, 2008 article, "Most Levee Repairs Lagging", the US Army Corps of Engineers indicated that the worst offenders are Washington and California, where levees with "unacceptable maintenance deficiencies" protect densely populated cities like Seattle and Sacramento. While Connecticut has recently provided $5 million to improve Hartford's levees, no one knows how this trapping ban will affect the cost of repairing the levees in the future. One has to wonder if it will even be feasible to perform the repairs without being able to use the proper tools, such as traps, to control the burrowing animals causing the damage. If the repairs are delayed, the US Army Corps of Engineers could bar access to recovery funds, should there be a catastrophe. Tom Logan, Vice President of the Connecticut Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association, Inc., states, "The state lawmakers need to look at the overall picture of this ban on trapping, and look at where these tools can be used effectively to manage wildlife to protect human interests. How will a muskrat or beaver that is burrowing into a levee be caught without these tools being available anymore? It's ironic that the two states that are the worst offenders are states that ban these traps."
According to Dan Marks, a civil engineer and a consultant of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, burrowing animals like muskrats and beavers are the two most common wildlife species to cause structural damage. Muskrats burrow into the levees and weaken their integrity. Beavers obstruct spillways, burrow into the levee, and move mud and material to create their own dams. Mr. Marks says that water level devices are not a good option since they are expensive to install and maintain. He stated that last year in June a muskrat had undermined a repaired water-saturated levee that was holding back the relentless Mississippi River in eastern Missouri. The town residents had worked for several days to maintain the levee from the rising waters. This only affected about 100 homes, but the levee was protecting an area of about 3,000 acres, and the damage happened when everyone was sleeping.
Muskrats and beaver aren't the only wildlife causing damage to dikes.
"How can we control moles that are eroding the surface of these levees?" asked Richard Daniotti, owner of Wildlife Control Services of West Hartford. "These lawmakers are supposed to look out for the environment and the people. Yet if they ban the use of traps, they will only cause more poisons to be absorbed into the environment, including our waterways." Daniotti also pointed to the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) technical manual for wildlife control professionals to use in managing these animals, "FEMA highly recommends these same traps that the state lawmakers are trying to ban."
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's Deputy Commissioner, Susan Frechette, testified at the environmental lawmakers hearing on March 9th in opposition to the trap ban, citing a detrimental impact on wildlife management. She testified that if the traps are banned under the proposed legislation, the most effective, and for some species, the only effective tool, will no longer be available to wildlife control professionals. Senator Edward Meyer of Guilford responded to Deputy Commissioner during the hearing by saying, "I am appalled that the department is condoning the use of these traps"
The Connecticut Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association is a non-profit organization to promote general standards and ethics as well as foster education, research, and knowledge within the nuisance wildlife control industry.
For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview with Tom Logan, please call 203-375-1211 or email
Richard Daniotti at 860-236-2683
Or visit our website

Alan A. Huot, President
Wildlife Control Supplies

P.O. Box 538
East Granby, CT 06026
860-844-0101   860-413-9831 (FAX)
"Products for Professionals"