The photo shows rural citizens – mostly trappers – on video conference with Legislature.
Trapper arguments against shorter trap visitation times:
- Some of them have long trap lines with as many as 100 traps on a line. This takes a long time to visit.
- The traps are set in remote, rugged, hard-to-reach country.
- Most trappers have to work (despite the claim by some that trapping is their entire income) and so have only weekends to visit traps.
- They want no restrictions. Period.
We flew to Las Vegas on our own dimes.
Yesterday in Las Vegas was like a bad acid trip. Don’t ask me how I know. I wish what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas, but it’s right here to haunt me today.
First off, a girl in a flowered dress tells us she just started trapping and she finds it “empowering”.
Then a guy in an American flag T-shirt lifts each of his pre-school little girls up to the microphone so they can pipe: “I like hunting and trapping.” A colleague behind me gasps: “Child abuse!”
Then the Committee sets upon Dr. Molde’s data – painstakingly collected utilizing much of Nevada Department of Wildlife’s (NDOW’s) own data – like a pack of wolves. (Dr. Don Molde is a retired physician who has been an ardent animal advocate for over 40 years.) Sullivan – trapper representative on the committee – is alpha predator calling the data: “amateur science” and “nonsense” and “deception”. Russell Woolstenhulme – NDOW data guy – explains away years of disregarding nontarget kills and citizen complaints, years of partial response from trappers – who are supposed to fill out an annual report, but in fact few do so – leaving us to question where the truth lies in this debate.
Sullivan tries to get Russell to issue a scientific “opinion”, but this does not happen. Dr. Molde is not there to defend his research.
Responding to trapper bemusement about why all this is happening, Committee Chair Commissioner Dave McNinch makes one of the few humane or even sensible remarks, explaining that “it comes down to values” and that there is such a thing as humane issues. He adds trapping is PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT. He should be congratulated.
In a breathtaking turn-around, Commissioner Jack Robb – who is also NDOW Deputy Director – distances himself from his vote a few weeks ago to recommend one-day visitation for skimpy areas in the Sierra Front. Now he’s making trapper education a bargaining chip. He’s denying that’s what he’s doing, but that’s what he’s doing. The trappers want the education “in lieu of” shorter visitation. Jack would love to give them that but he makes references to the Legislature and their expectations, so you can see he thinks his hands are tied even though the Legislature gave him carte blanche to set this policy.
Robb indicates he’ll now support 2-calendar day visitation. “Shorter trap check might not be as effective as trapper education”. This entirely misses the point about animal suffering.
Of course the Nevada Trappers Association (NTA) boys want to run the education program. Robb suggests NDOW should run it.
Sullivan enlightens us. He has “objective” literature on trapping he will post to the NDOW website. Question: when do WE get to post anything on their website?
So now shorter visitation is a bargaining chip as is trapper education.
NTA President Joel Blakeslee mistakes a room full of glaring trappers and horrified animal advocates for a therapy group. He bares his soul to us regarding his unfair and unjustified citation for failure to visit his traps (for somewhat around 10 days). He had pneumonia. He tells us what he’s coughing up. He’s almost dying although miraculously well enough to stumble out of his death bed and fly to Las Vegas. He didn’t get his meds. He and Larry Johnson rumbling around the outback had a flat tire and who knows what else befell them. So the state shouldn’t even consider higher demerits for failure to visit trap (which, to my surprise, they are doing) Rising to flights of pneumonia-induced eloquence, he tells us there’s a bill already drafted to “shut down Mt. Charleston”. He accuses his opposition (us) of “cultural genocide”. He is “falling on his sword” being destroyed “inch by inch” by “Pol Pot, Germany”. His trap-baiting, animal strangling culture is being decimated “a pound of flesh at a time. Keep your dignity. At least you fought for it.”
Jack Robb tries to sound equitable – claims the Trapping Regulation Committee represents “all citizens” “We are the social arm of NDOW” Joel: “it’s the wrong thing. It’s not telling the truth”. “it’s all about us losing. It’s also about human fairness”.
Hard to tell if the focus of his grief was the threat from NDOW to shorten visitation times, or the modest suggestion from the Committee to increase demerits for violations Jack Robb deems “willfully malicious”.
At the end, I am not clear what will happen with the hunt units around Las Vegas. Sullivan wanted Commissioner Dr. Karen Layne’s ( she is the sole animal advocate on the Commission) map to shrink to ¼ of its current size and argued with every word she said.
We were mocked in absentia for leaving at 8PM to catch our flight back to Reno. We missed four more hours of this which, we heard later, went on until midnight.