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May 22, 2012 > Ohlone Humane Society: Cruelly trapped wildlife need your immediate help

Ohlone Humane Society: Cruelly trapped wildlife need your immediate help

By Nancy Lyon

It's pretty safe to say that not everyone feels that sharing their abode with wildlife is an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately for the animals, removing them by commercial trapping has become a business that has often employed means of cruelly disposing of those unlucky enough to be captured, a practice that has increasingly come under the scrutiny of animal protectionists.

Customers of trapping services usually have little idea what happens to the animals they wish removed from their property. To address this omission, California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) has authored legislation Senate Bill (SB) 1480 that would mandate that consumers using commercial trapping services must be provided with a written contract stating these details so they can make informed choices regarding the removal of wildlife when they become "nuisance" problems or create property damage.

The bill would also prohibit specific barbaric methods of killing animals like raccoons, opossum, skunks and other wild creatures. Currently, commercial trappers have little, if any, supervision on the methods used to destroy captured wildlife. SB 1480 would make it illegal to kill any trapped mammal by intentional drowning or injection with any chemical not specifically sold for the purpose of euthanizing animals. Killing by the injection of solutions such as chemical solvents, sodium cyanide and even fingernail polish remover, toxic products that have been used in the past and caused an excruciating death; or by thoracic compression, commonly known as chest crushing would be illegal.

Senator Corbett stated "This bill helps consumers find legitimate and experienced trappers," Corbett said. "It's time we quit turning a blind eye to the inhumane practices used by some wildlife trappers."

In 2003 a law was passed that required individuals offering commercial wildlife trapping services to the public to be obligated to obtain a license from the state Department of Fish and Game. However, because of insufficient resources to enforce the law, Fish & Game has not issued any regulations that would act as guidelines for commercial trappers. SB 1480, if passed, directs the Department of Fish and Game to maintain a list of licensed trappers on its website, requires trappers to provide a written contract to consumers, and forbids cruel methods of animal killing.

SB 1480 is co-sponsored by Born Free USA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, rescue animals in need, protect wildlife in their natural habitats, and encourage compassionate conservation and is partnered by the San Francisco Wildlife Center. Monica Engebetson, the senior program associate for Born Free USA stated "This important bill will increase protections for wildlife, reduce the chances of family dogs and cats being inadvertently killed in traps and will help consumers make informed decisions. Our organization has worked for many years to address this issue, and we are grateful to Senator Corbett for introducing this bill."

Ohlone Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, whose mission is to save orphaned and injured wildlife, can attest to a number of orphaned baby mammals coming into the Center every year whose mothers have been killed by for-profit trappers. In an effort to address this tragedy, SB 1480 incorporates specific regulations and guidelines that for-profit trappers must follow to insure the protection young animals still dependent on their mothers for survival. It states, "The bill would require a class II trapping licensee to make a reasonable effort not to leave dependent young animals that are orphaned as a consequence of the trapping and killing of their mother, to die within an area of a home or business that is inaccessible to the licensee." It would also mandate that all trapped lactating females be immediately released to care for their young.

People who hire commercial trappers to remove animals from their property not only need but deserve to know what will happen to animals they pay to have removed. They also have the right - and yes - the obligation to know how the animals will be killed if it is considered "necessary."

SB 1480 successfully passed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, and will be heard next by the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) possibly this coming week. I recently spoke with Senator Corbett's aides in Sacramento, and they emphasized the importance of continuing public support and urged that in the remaining days before going before SAC, possibly just days after this is published, that they ask supporters to call SAC committee members and urge their support of SB 1480. Please take a moment and let your representatives know that you support the humane treatment of wildlife that are presently at the mercy of commercial trappers.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee:
Christine Kehoe (Chair) (916) 651-4039
Mimi Walters (Vice Chair) (916) 651-4033
Elaine Alquist (916) 651-4013
Bob Dutton (916) 651-4031
Ted W. Lieu (916) 651-4028
Curran D. Price, Jr (916) 651-4026
Darrel Steinberg (916) 651-4006

For assistance in humanely discouraging wildlife from "homesteading" at your residence, call the OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for information: 510-797-9449.

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