By MARC FOLCO
December 27, 2009 12:00 AM
Step right up folks and see "The Wild Man" stick his hand in that medieval torture device — the dreaded padded foothold trap. Never before seen by human eyes. Just one thin dime is all its takes to witness this horrific spectacle. Just one thin dime. Will he lose his hand, chopped off at the wrist or will he chew his arm off to get out of the trap? Will he writhe in agony and pain as he dies of gangrene or will he die of starvation, unable to free himself from the evil death trap? If you thought the geek biting the head off a chicken was something to see, you 'aint seen nothin' yet.
Don't settle for imposters. He's the genuine article. The one, the only — Trapped Wild Man. And seein' as the boss ain't around, I'm going to let the first ten people in absolutely free. That's right. Absolutely free! Alright now, no shoving, no pushing, there's plenty of room for everybody. Let the kids come up front where they can see the blood and gore. And the inhumanity! The cruelty! You think you can't bear to watch, but you won't be able to avert the eyes. You can't pull away.
Yes, the humane, padded foothold trap has been fiendishly demonized and sensationalized by animal rights drama queens as a freakish, cruel and torturous device that breaks bones, inflicts deadly damage on any living thing unlucky enough to step in it, is more painful than slamming your fingers in a car door, more powerful than a locomotive and faster than a speeding bullet, but the truth is it's a big pile of horse feathers.
The rubber-jaw foothold trap is a wildlife management tool that is designed with padded jaws to hold a fur-bearer securely and humanely until the trapper arrives, usually within a few hours. Unfortunately, it was outlawed in Massachusetts by ballot referendum in 1996 after well-funded animal rights extremists waged a propaganda-filled campaign filled with misinformation, half-truths and whole lies, misleading the public into believing they were voting to outlaw the old fashioned steel-jaw trap, like the old bear traps.
Should the lawmakers allow scientific wildlife management policy to be snatched from the hands of highly-educated, professional wildlife biologists and left to the whim of voters duped by wailing breast beaters?
Since the humane foothold trap was outlawed coyote populations exploded, with the cunning and often vicious animals terrorizing neighborhoods and people, and killing countless beloved pets and valuable livestock. They are fierce enough to kill adult deer and animals as large as cows. Recently in Canada, a woman was savagely attacked and killed by a pair of the ferocious animals, the second recorded human fatality in modern times, adding proof that they can be dangerous to humans.
Now that the media has been exposing the carnage by coyotes, animal rights extremists are worried that the Legislature could consider reversing the misbegotten ballot referendum and reinstate the use of the humane trap. Let's hope the Legislature does come to its senses in 2010 and reverses the ban so the humane wildlife management tool could be used very effectively once again, especially in areas where hunting is not an option.
In a recent anti-trapping letter to The Standard-Times, the writer implies that the fear of the trap being reinstated is real and could hurt the animal rights movement. She writes, "Here we go again with the call to bring back trapping. Did we forget that the people of Massachusetts voted to ban this cruel and inhumane practice? And it should stay banned — permanently!"
It should stay banned? At the cost of pets, livestock and possible human life and limb?
The writer also falsely claims that getting a limb caught in one of these devices is like slamming your fingers in a car door, but more painful and causes broken bones and other injuries. "For the fortunate animal who gets away, usually by chewing its leg off, it will die of gangrene. For those who can't get away, it will starve to death, get attacked by other animals, or wait on its fate when the trapper returns," she says.
So, are we to believe that an animal that gets away by chewing its leg off is "fortunate" to die slowly of gangrene, rather than be dispatched quickly and humanely by the trapper? Is this a fate that the animal rights movement deems fortunate and humane? And the animals don't starve to death because state law requires trappers to check their traps at least daily. All first-time trappers are also required to attend a trapper education course before being issued a license.
The writer also claims that domestic pets could fall victim to the traps. But the padded foothold trap is adjustable, so that only the weight of the targeted animal will spring the trap. If a trapper is after coyotes, the trap is set so that only an animal the weight of a 35-pound coyote (and heavier) will spring it. A cat or small dog is too light to set it off.
Even in the extremely rare event where a free-roaming cat or dog gets caught in a padded trap, the trapper would simply release it unharmed to scamper or trot its way home. Anyone who allows a cat or dog to roam free puts that pet at greater risk of much more dangerous and deadly fates, such as falling prey to larger, more aggressive free-range pets, coyotes, foxes, fishers, hawks or cars.
In closing, the writer challenges, "If these so-called rubber-jaw traps are painless "» I want to see a trapper put his hand in one. Let's see how much it doesn't hurt."
This outdoor writer is not a trapper, but he is a hunter and conservationist and knowledgeable enough about trapping to accept the challenge and demonstrate that the traps truly are humane and not the heinous devices purported by the animal rights drama queens. So I got a coyote-size rubber-padded trap and went to The Standard-Times office to have the demonstration filmed by S-T videographer Nick Tavares.
Quiet on the set. Take one. Lights, camera and "» action! I set the trap, demonstrated how a small animal can't set it off, then stuck my hand in it and sprung it. Seeing as human finger bones are much smaller than a coyote's leg bone and human skin is much thinner than a tough-skinned coyote, my fingers and hand surely would be broken, mangled and bloodied, so the writer claimed.
It clamped onto my hand and to the surprise (and disappointment maybe?) of the cameraman and a few onlookers (who all asked for their dimes back — hey no refunds) there was no screaming, crying, blood, broken bones or other damage.
It's not nearly as painful as slamming your fingers in a car door and not even as painful as pulling a hair out of your nose. I didn't have the urge to chew my arm off and it's been six days since then and no gangrene has set in and I have not starved to death, debunking the myths and misinformation that they are cruel and inhumane. And while my hand was in the trap nobody said, "let's get him," and came to attack me.
To view the demonstration online, visit SouthCoastToday.com/sports and see for yourself. Then stick around for the next show and see JoJo the dog-faced boy. He walks, he talks and he crawls on his belly like the reptile man!