Opening day of trapping season draws protest

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William Benjamin, of Coeur d'Alene, displays a protest sign alongside other protestors Thursday on Sherman Avenue. The Idaho wolf trapping season opened Thursday.

COEUR d'ALENE - Disappointed, yes.

Discouraged? No.

Despite a turnout of four people for a quickly called protest in Coeur d'Alene for Thursday's opening of Idaho's wolf trapping season, Ann Sedow refused to turn around and go home.

"We can still be out there," said the co-chair of Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance. "People will see us, we can hand out the brochures, we can tell people how to release their pet from a trap - if they get there in time."

So Sedow, with her hound "Boomer" at her side wearing a sign that said, "Don't be Cruel," went for a walk in downtown Coeur d'Alene. She was armed with fliers and carrying a sign that depicted pictures of animals, wild and domestic, caught in traps. It read, "Will your dog be next?"

Protesters said they wanted to continue to shine a light on what they called a barbaric and cruel method of killing wolves. All but eight states, she said, allow trapping.

Idaho voters just passed an amendment to the state's Constitution to forever protect the right to hunt, fish, and trap.

"We want people to be aware that wolves are going to start suffering even more today," Sedow said. "I think if more people knew what was going on, they wouldn't be OK with it."

William Benjamin of Coeur d'Alene joined the mini-protest.

He said he doesn't like the practice of leaving traps in the wilderness, where it could harm a wolf or a pet like his chocolate lab, Dorie, when they go for walks.

"I don't believe trapping is a good thing," he said.

According to the Wolf Alliance, 93 wolves have been killed in Idaho this fall. The last Idaho wolf population count, in December 2011, reported there 746 wolves in the state.

Bill Howell, one of NIWA's founding members, said the protest was about creating public awareness of the suffering endured by pets and wildlife caught in traps.

"Most people are so caught up in their day to day they don't even think about it," he said. "We're trying to at least plant a seed, something they might think about."

Idaho Fish and Game regulations allow for unmarked traps to be set 5 feet from the center of public trails and 300 feet from picnic grounds, campgrounds and trailheads. Dogs, cats, and other untargeted animals die in traps every year, he said.

"Idaho allows that," Howell said.

Of the 379 wolves killed in last year's hunt, 56 suffered in leghold traps for up to three days before being killed, and some of those were documented to have broken all or most of their teeth off trying to escape, Sedow said. Sixty-seven choked to death in snares.

Traps are designed to work in different ways. Some break an animal's spine or choke it to death, the alliance said in its press release. Leghold traps will hold an animal until the trapper returns and kills it, or it dies from starvation or exposure.

Leghold traps have been banned in 89 countries and have been declared "inhumane" by many organizations, the alliance release said.

IDFG regulations require that traps be checked every 72 hours. Animals found alive in traps are commonly beat, strangled, or suffocated to save the pelt from bullet holes, Howell said.

"Children as young as 9 can get a trapping license in Idaho to participate in this," said a press release.

An IDFG spokesman declined to comment.

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