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Wildlife Trapping: The Cruelty of Conservation

I was reading Marcus Aurelius Armitage’s essay on human overpopulation, Euthanasia for Sale: Economic Stimulation Through Voluntary Extermination, when the red phone rang.

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses a goddamned leg, isn’t it?” my friend Monty Gelstein was screaming.

I tried briefly to explain that I was busy considering Armitage’s compelling proposition before being interrupted by my more-than-slightly unbalanced confidante.

“I’m doing something about it, man!” he shouted. “You get my drift, David? I’m doing something!”

“OK, Monty,” I asked, “what exactly are you talking about?”

“I’m gonna catch me some trappers!” he explained, cryptically and with a poor attempt at hillbilly speak.

“I’m not rich in patience, today, Monty,” I warned him.

“Yeah, well, I’m a little short on patience myself, goddamned it!” he spat. “Didn’t you read David Crary’s Associated Press piece?”

“No, I didn’t,” I admitted.

“I’ve got it right here,” Monty said. “The headline is ‘Wildlife trapping: strong feelings for and against.'”

“Against,” I told him.

“Yeah, well, you should read what some of these so-called trappers have to say. This former ‘conservation officer’ Barry Warner, for example, he’s quoted in Crary’s piece as saying: ‘Some people think trappers don’t care about wildlife. … It was my love for it that took me into this career. I don’t want to see anything suffer.'”

I heard Monty drop three ice cubes into a glass.

“I can’t wait to watch that cross-eyed mouth-breather chew off his own leg!” Monty yelled.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I asked him. “You’ve set traps for trappers, haven’t you?”

“You’re goddamned right I have,” he confirmed. “I’m giving these knuckle-dragging bastards a choice: gnaw off a limb or be fed upon by the wildlife they so enjoy killing.”

“Can I assume that you’ll be capturing all this on video?”

“You bet your ass you can!” he assured me. “I’ve got cameras hidden all over the place. I’m going to make one hell of a documentary. Who wouldn’t pay to watch me catch a trapper in a ‘leghold trap,’ force him to chew off his own leg, skin him alive, and feed his carcass to the wildlife he set out to kill?”

“Oh, I’d definitely pay to see that,” I agreed.

“How serendipitous that you happened to be reading that essay on human overpopulation,” Monty said. “In truth, I’m acting in the interest of conservation. In his Associated Press piece, Crary tells us: ‘Trappers consider their quarry a renewable resource and depict themselves as front-line conservationists playing a vital role in wildlife management.’ Well, I see myself as a human conservationist. I’m managing the species.”

“Makes sense to me,” I said.

Gotcha!” he exclaimed, trying, I thought, to imitate the American cartoon character Sarah Palin. “I’m actually doing it because I really enjoy it.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I offered.

“Seriously, I’m just repeating what this bastard Barry Warner was quoted as saying in Crary’s piece: ‘The average guy is doing it because he loves it.'”

“I appreciate it, Monty,” I told him. “I’ve always found claims of wildlife conservation insulting.”

“Exactly,” he said. “I’m not down with euphemisms.”

The video embedded above is included here with permission from Born Free USA, which, earlier this year — along with the Nottingham, England-based Respect for Animals — conducted an unprecedented investigation of wildlife trapping.


  1. Phoebe wrote:

    I think this will interest you.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  2. David Brensilver wrote:


    I agree with Roz Downing’s comment at the bottom of the story.


    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  3. Leslie wrote:

    Extra points for recognizing Palin as a cartoon character!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  4. David Brensilver wrote:


    We should thank Palin for making it too easy.


    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

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